Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bernama: Liow: Doctors’ compulsory service may be reduced

Liow: Doctors’ compulsory service may be reduced

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 – Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the government is studying the possibility of shortening the doctors’ compulsory service in public hospitals. He said the ministry was hoping to come up with the decision by this year.

“The ministry is looking at four years of service (two years of housemanship and two years of compulsory service) compared to five years (three years of housemanship and two years of compulsory service) now,” he told reporters after launching B-Nes Sdn Bhd, a company specialising in birdnest products, near here, today.

He was commenting on a statement made by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk T. Murugiah on Jan 27 that the government was looking at increasing doctors’ compulsory service in public hospitals to between five and 10 years to overcome the shortage of doctors.

He said the idea to extend the compulsory public service for doctors to five or 10 years from the current three in order to overcome the annual shortage of doctors in government hospitals, was not practical.

“We are looking at cutting it (the compulsory service) and making it more attractive for doctors to practice voluntarily in the sector. Forcing them to do so is not good,” he said.

The public sector is reported to face a shortage of between 14,000 and 15,000 from the 25,000 doctors needed, and the situation was made worse with some 300 to 400 doctors leaving the service yearly, despite about 3,000 new medical graduates entering the field at the same time.

Liow also said the ministry had issued a circular last month to standardise the working hours of house officers and medical officers in government hospitals.

“Housemanship is an important training period during which the young doctor is expected to acquire all the necessary basic knowledge and skills required to be a safe and competent doctor, including the ability to adapt to the tough and busy life of a doctor.

“However, I do not want their working hours and conditions to be detrimental to their health and learning process, nor to compromise the safety and interests of their patients,” he added. – Bernama

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