Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (KKM) is reportedly in discussions with the Public Service Department (JPA) to absorb medical personnel who are currently working on contract basis into permanent positions without pensions. The move is aimed at addressing the country’s escalating pension burden and the growing workload that exceeds existing resources.
According to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, the pension scheme has become a significant burden on the government, with costs rising from RM3.1 billion in 2011 to RM29.1 billion in 2021. In response, KKM is considering a proposal to offer contract workers permanent positions without pensions, while still providing them with the same benefits as other permanent employees.
The proposal has sparked discussions among policymakers, with Datuk Jefridin Atan questioning whether KKM is considering adding contract doctor positions to address the workload of health workers. The government has acknowledged that the increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has led to a surge in patients, causing congestion in hospitals and exceeding existing resources.
To alleviate the burden, KKM has launched a pilot project under the Special Task Force for Public Sector Reform (STAR) to reduce congestion in hospitals. KKM is also promoting digital efforts to reduce the workload of KKM members and implementing scheduling practices that provide health workers with adequate rest time between shifts, including leave.
The proposed move to offer permanent positions without pensions to contract workers is expected to reduce the burden on the pension scheme while addressing the workload of medical personnel. However, policymakers will need to balance the potential savings with the need to provide adequate retirement benefits to public sector workers.
The discussions between KKM and JPA come as Malaysia continues to grapple with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with policymakers exploring ways to address rising healthcare costs whilst maintaining quality healthcare services for the public.