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Hartal Group Says Burnt Out Doctors Are Quitting With 24-Hour Notices

"Doctors are resigning with 24 hours' notice. Simply too tired and can't take it anymore," they wrote on Twitter.

Cover image via Free Malaysia Today & @HKontrak (Twitter)

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Contract doctors are quitting with 24 hours' notice due to exhaustion in battling the COVID-19 pandemic and frustration with fighting for fairer employment terms, said the Hartal Doktor Kontrak group

The social media campaign organiser called on the government on 1 July to give contract junior doctors permanent placements in the Ministry of Health (MOH), lest they will go on a nationwide strike on 26 July.

Contract medical officers are protesting their conditional positions because of lower pay and fewer career opportunities compared to their permanent counterparts, despite doing the same amount of work.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Free Malaysia Today

However, even before the strike, the group said doctors are leaving public service, as burnout from handling the unending battle against COVID-19 becomes the final straw

"Doctors are resigning with 24 hours' notice. Simply too tired and can't take it anymore," stated a post on Hartal Doktor Kontrak's Twitter account on Sunday, 18 July.

Attached was a photo of an emergency department roster on WhatsApp that showed a staff member had resigned. However, no information on the hospital was provided.

A day after that, the group retweeted @mustaphakamal93's tweet, showing a photo of a resignation letter by a Grade UD41 contract medical officer from Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) in Klang.

"Received news that many friends are not just taking emergency leave, they are resigning. It's clear they are burnt out and disappointed with the MOH," said Dr Mustapha Kamal, a medical officer and spokesperson for Hartal Doktor Kontrak.

The 24-hour notice, dated 19 July, stated the reasons for resignation as being a contract medical officer, not being able to get a permanent post, not qualified to do their Masters, and an unclear future.

Mustapha told SAYS that the letter belonged to his friend, who is leaving for the private sector after becoming too worked up with the situation.

Hartal Doktor Kontrak then shared another resignation letter of a Grade UD41 contract medical officer on Twitter on the same day that stated they were also quitting to look for job opportunities in the private sector and further their studies.

On 30 June, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba had assured the contract doctors' demands will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting

However, he did not specify a date.

Meanwhile, when contacted by Free Malaysia Today, an MOH spokesperson said the issue is still under purview of their human resources division and they will only provide feedback if there are any.

Unless their employment issue is addressed by the government, contract medical officers are planning a nationwide strike on 26 July:

In June, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham updated that hospitals have been operating at overcapacity for a while now: