Tackle nurses’ brain drain before situation worsens, MCA veep tells govt

MCA has expressed concern over recent reports that there were 6,896 nursing vacancies in 2023 that have yet to be filled, saying this will certainly affect the existing nurses in terms of workload.

Party vice president Datuk Lawrence Low said the additional time, energy and mental pressure could potentially reduce the quality of service and expound the desire to quit the government service for greener pastures in the private sector or overseas, or to switch careers altogether.

“The Health Ministry (MOH) needs to take a serious view of the issue of vacancies for nurses in public vacancies,” he said in a statement on Tuesday (April 16).

According to an Utusan Malaysia report yesterday, the percentage of vacancies had escalated drastically from 10% to 40% in the four years since the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz noted that many nurses left their jobs at the MOH in pursuit of higher paying work, better incentives and less pressure offered by neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Australia and West Asia.

The MOH informed Parliament last month that vacancies for nurses stood at 2,106 in 2020, increasing to 2,224 in 2021 and 4,420 in 2022; and the latest figure as of last year was 6,896.

Low said to retain nurses in the civil service, the government should consider increasing the salaries and allowances of nurses.

“The government should also improve the workplace environment, such as providing rest and meals during overtime work, or childcare facilities and others as an initial measure,” he reckoned.

“By providing more nurse training facilities, especially in rural areas, the government would be encouraging more school leavers to take up nursing as a profession.”

He said to overcome the vacancies in the short term, the government could, among other things, offer attractive contract positions to nurses who have retired or quit their jobs, as well as to hire part-time workers for less technical work.

“At the same time, I hope that the government through the MOH will always cooperate closely and listen to the views of various parties such as the MMA, medical experts and those involved in healthcare and medical services,” he stated.

“By enabling this important group to be always given space in engagement sessions, the government would thus ensure that every policy or decision to be implemented comprehensively reflects the various angles for the benefit of the country.” – April 16, 2024

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