Department of Health ‘underpaid’ physiotherapists demand better career paths

KUALA LUMPUR, January 18 – Over 4,600 people have signed an online petition calling for better career advancement opportunities for physiotherapists in the public healthcare sector.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) Physiotherapy Staff is requesting higher level positions for physiotherapists with a bachelor’s degree and upper entry level qualifications, a level above the current degree requirement at a bachelor’s degree, in a petition on Change.org.

The petition claims that a physiotherapist who has been in government service for 10 years cannot automatically qualify for a U41 grade promotion, as there are only five to 10 U41 grade positions available each year.

Instead, physiotherapists in the civil service for a decade can only apply for promotions to U32, which cannot even be confirmed due to limited working positions. The U29 and U32 positions are reserved for graduates, while U41 requires a diploma.

“If the physiotherapist intends to obtain the [U41] position, the person will have to apply for an interview and compete with external candidates. It’s really an unfair career path,” said Syahira, a physiotherapist at a public hospital.

Citing data from the Public Service Commission (SPA), she tweeted that only 17 rehabilitation workers in U41 physiotherapy were appointed on a permanent basis between 2018 and 2020 (2018: 10, 2019: 6, 2020: 1).

Syahira said there are 353 physiotherapists in the Ministry of Health who hold degrees, of which 156 are still serving under paid degrees in government institutions. “It’s a difference of 44%, however, 44% of baccalaureate graduates do not work, without having the U41 grade.”

The starting salary for U41 physiotherapy rehabilitation workers is RM2,429, with a maximum salary of RM9,656, according to the SPA. The annual salary increment is RM225.

For comparison, the minimum wage for a U29 physiotherapist is RM1,797. The top salary for the pay grade is capped at RM5,753, with an annual salary increase of RM145.

The U32 grade offers a minimum salary of RM2,331 and a maximum salary of RM6,394, with annual salary increases of RM155, based on the government open source database salary grids.

The petition calls on the government to offer a level of pay “commensurate” with the academic qualifications of a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are the latest group to join government doctors and specialists who say they are underpaid.

A signatory of the petition named Ken Ang Lee said, “I completely agree that the current system of promoting physiotherapists is unfair. It should indeed go through the qualifications rather than [by] positions which again are so limited. Please rectify this unfair system as soon as possible.

Another signatory, Muhamad Faiz, commented: “I know several people who are pursuing a Masters in Physiotherapy while working as a U29 physio. I really hope they get an edge in their careers or we (Malaysians) lose some amazing people.

Wei Tsen Lee, also a signatory, said, “Career development as a physiotherapist is very limited, while the physiotherapy service is a very important curative field in the Ministry of Health. Government must provide space for qualified people to stay in service and avoid “brain drain” in the civil service. »

The petition is addressed to the Ministry of Health, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Minister of Health Dr Zaliha Mustafa, Deputy Minister of Health Lukaniman Awang Sauni and MP for Bandar Tun Razak Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

By Tuesday, 4,652 people had signed the petition.

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