KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) recent survey on manpower situation at public healthcare facilities does not accurately represent the actual staffing requirements, says the Health Ministry (MOH).

“MOH takes note of the survey by MMA involving 117 respondents from government healthcare facilities. Based on this survey, the MMA concluded that 95% of government facilities are facing manpower shortages,” Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said in a parliamentary written reply dated July 1.

“MOH appreciates MMA’s efforts although the survey is too general or generic, as it only considered the views of 117 respondents. Hence, this survey does not reflect the actual manpower needs at MOH’s healthcare facilities,” he added.

As of March 31, the Health Ministry has a total of 298,762 staff members under its various service schemes.

Of this, 266,087 are permanent staff members while 32,675 are employed under contract.

He said the manpower requirement for a facility will depend on factors such as number of patients especially during peak hours, cases referred to the emergency and trauma department and whether the available manpower can sustain the workload.

“At this time, the manpower needs are decided based on the staffing norm and outfit as well as the workload in a facility,” he said.

“Additional manpower needs are managed through placing and transferring contract staff to the facilities that are in need.

“MOH will also study the requirement for manpower and other resources to ensure that quality medical services can be delivered effectively,” he said.

An ad hoc poll by the MMA in May found that only 5% of healthcare facilities operate with adequate manpower.

The ministry had received a hiring quota of 4,186 for 2022 comprising 3,586 medical officers, 300 dentists and 300 pharmacists.

“Besides that, MOH was also given approval to create 1,500 vacancies from 2023 to 2025 for medical officers, dentists and pharmacists.

“MOH also received approval to create 800 permanent positions for specialists and 70 dental specialists each year from 2023 to meet specialists needs,” said Dzulkefly.

In 2023, 1,086 officers had accepted the offer for permanent positions.

Meanwhile, 924 contract officers had resigned from the service in 2023, compared to 1,354 in 2022.

“According to statistics, it is clear that the number of resignations of medical officers from MOH is lower than those who have accepted permanent post,” he said.

Nevertheless, Dzulkefly said the ministry is conducting a recruitment drive for interim contract officers through the Public Services Commission from July.

Contract healthcare workers from the December 2016 cohort who are still serving MOH or working elsewhere can still apply through the PSC advertisement.

He was responding to a question by Datuk Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi (PN-Kuala Langat) on the long-term and medium measures taken to address the manpower situation based on the findings of the MMA survey.