Medical profession





The Ministry of Health (MOH) would like to refer to a letter published in The Star on 21st March 2015 titled ‘On-Call claims abuse by HODs’ by Dr Prakash, Kuala Lumpur.

MOH agrees with Dr Prakash that “a doctor is always a doctor no matter how high the Rank and position”. To provide continuous care to the patients, doctors are required to work extra hours including being on-call, as illnesses and emergencies could occur at any time.

There are two types of on-calls that have been practiced in MOH hospitals namely active calls and passive calls. Those who do active calls have to be present in hospital, while those doing passive calls may stay at home but have to be on standby and always ready at a moment’s notice to be called and come to the hospital when necessary.

For a department that has more than one specialist, the specialists including the Head of Department (HOD) have to do calls on rotation basis.  There will be only two tiers of on-call being practiced for these departments i.e. specialist and consultant, hence there is no specific HOD call. Likewise for a department that only has a single specialist; he or she has to be on-call daily, which is usually a passive call. A specialist from another hospital will cover this specialist’s duties when he or she is on leave.

As for the on-call allowances, there are rules and regulations that have been put in place that are reviewed and updated from time to time to ensure complete integrity.  All on-call claims from specialists including HODs need to be supported by relevant documents such as punch cards and on-call rosters and must be verified. The Hospital Director is responsible to verify the frequency of the claims, type of on-calls and other related documents before the claims can be approved.

An HOD is expected to be contactable at all times and there is no special allowances for this post.  Apart from managing patient in wards and clinics, performing specific clinical procedures especially for complicated cases, training junior doctors and other related clinical duties; HODs are additionally responsible for the management of human resources and financial matters of the department.

The Ministry appreciates the contributions that have been made by these senior consultants whom have stayed on in the civil service. It is hoped with their continued dedication and sharing of expertise and skills with the younger generation of doctors, the healthcare service delivery to the rakyat will continue to improve and be brought to greater heights.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

Director General of Health Malaysia

Ministry of Health Malaysia

24th March 2015

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