Doctor Forced To Relocate From S'wak To JB At Own Expense After Placement Mix-Up

The medical officer spent most of his savings to relocate to Sarawak after his appeal for a posting in Peninsular Malaysia was initially denied.

Cover image via New Straits Times (Edited by SAYS)

Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, and WhatsApp for the latest stories and breaking news.

Many doctors are facing unexpected challenges and uncertainties amid the recent mass reassignments of permanent medical officers (MOs)

These postings have affected many MOs, both positively and negatively.

Take, for example, the case of MOs posted to Dungun Hospital in Terengganu.

Last week, on 31 July, over two dozen MOs reported for duty at Dungun Hospital in Terengganu, only to discover that they had been posted to a newly established hospital that had yet to commence operations.

"When we arrived at the existing Dungun Hospital, there was a representative from the Terengganu State Health Department (JKNT) who interviewed each of us individually, asking which of the three hospitals – Besut, Hulu Terengganu, and Kemaman – we wanted to go to instead. There was no option to stay at Dungun Hospital," an MO told CodeBlue, on condition of anonymity.

"We were shocked because we all thought we were supposed to be at Dungun Hospital. The reality was we were assigned to a 'new' hospital that was still closed, and there was another layer of selection to go through," the MO said, adding that she spent over RM1,000 to relocate to Terengganu.

Some were then given "temporary" placements at other Terengganu hospitals located between 70 to 192km away.

One doctor, who took to Facebook to share his own experience, highlighted the frustrations and difficulties faced by those impacted

The doctor, who had completed his housemanship at Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching, spent nearly three years there before being assigned to Hospital Rembau in Negeri Sembilan.

Despite his initial optimism, fate had other plans for him.

He was later directed to once again serve in Sarawak, this time at Hospital Sri Aman in Simanggang. This left him disheartened as he had to part ways with his family once more, according to the doctor's post.

Like many others, he, too, sought to appeal. However, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to change his placement. With a heavy heart, he mentally prepared himself for the new assignment in Simanggang.

In his post, he shared that he began making arrangements, including finding a rental home in Simanggang and shipping his vehicle via cargo at his own expense. However, much to his dismay, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that the doctors cannot claim any entitled reimbursements for these expenses.

"I accepted reality and flew to Kuching on Saturday, 29 July. I reported for duty on Monday, 31 July, as asked. All went well until I received a call on Tuesday morning, 1 August, from my old PTJ (responsibility centre) stating that my name is listed in Hospital Segamat in Johor instead, not in Sri Aman," he claimed.

File photo of Hospital Sri Aman.

Image via JKN Sarawak

According to administrative personnel, MOH released an updated list late on Friday evening, distributing it to specific health offices

Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for the doctors involved or their previous hospitals to be promptly notified. The doctor in question, upon further inquiry with MOH, was informed that his posting to Sri Aman Hospital was considered invalid and was treated as a 'tolak tawaran' (rejection of offer). Instead, he was instructed to report to Hospital Segamat as soon as possible, the doctor claimed in his post.

Understandably, the doctor was outraged by the turn of events. Having already spent a significant portion of his savings on the relocation process, he found himself in a difficult and frustrating position.

"This is so disappointing and frustrating. And now I have to send my car back to Semenanjung again with my own money, almost RM5,000 to and fro. And another RM2,000 for the house rental deposit and all other miscellaneous expenses," he rued, adding that he has to request a postponement from his previous workplace, while he prepared to report to Segamat next week.

The situation has left him and many others feeling disheartened and disappointed, especially due to the perceived unprofessional handling of the matter by the ministry.

While the doctor is grateful that his appeal was accepted, he and other MOs hope for a more transparent and efficient process in the future

The incident sheds light on the need for smoother and more organised systems to prevent such mix-ups and to ensure that doctors' placements are carried out seamlessly, allowing them to serve their communities without unnecessary distress and financial burden.

Meanwhile, amid doctors' concerns that the relocations would spark a public health care crisis, MOH, in a statement on Friday 4 August, has defended its move.

The statement – issued under Health director-general Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan's name – stated that the ministry "appreciated" all officers who reported for duty at their new placements on 31 July.

"Through these new placements, officers will obtain more exposure to the health care system and can develop their own capacities. This experience will make officers more mature and empathetic, and tougher (berdaya tahan) in surviving their career as a public servant," said the Health DG.

File photo of Health DG Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan.

Image via Bernama

In March this year, a contract medical officer wrote to SAYS, detailing how he was on the verge of breaking down and quitting MOH:

The issues with the public healthcare system and a lack of opportunities in Malaysia have forced many professionals, and not just doctors, to look abroad for better employment options:

You may be interested in: