Look at policies that led to houseman bullying, says health group

Look at policies that led to houseman bullying, says health group

Look at policies that led to houseman bullying, says health group

PETALING JAYA: A health policy centre has called for re-examination of policies that may have led to the current problem of housemen being bullied at government hospitals.

Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said the bullying of junior doctors should not be seen from the perspective of “us versus them” but from a human resources standpoint.

The centre’s CEO, Azrul Mohd Khalib, said toxic behaviour and bullying were unacceptable at any workplace.

The bigger issue was how existing policies had contributed to the creation of housemen who were not ready for the role.

“Incompetence can lead to life-changing mistakes, so senior doctors are right to be concerned,” he said.

As decisions involved life-and-death matters, the stakes were higher, “so one can understand the frustration but it’s not a license to vent out your frustrations on a junior,” he said. “We must be clear about the difference between reprimanding and bullying.”

Azrul said there should be a system where senior doctors are allowed to boot out those who aren’t up to mark.

“Their business is not to pass housemen, but to pass competent housemen,” he said. However, senior doctors must act responsibly as mentors and educators, and be accountable for their actions.

He said there were human resources tools that could help enforce professionalism in the workplace that would cover bullying and sexual harassment.

“University Malaya Medical Centre is doing something which all medical universities should do. They’ve introduced an entrance exam, the BioMedical Admissions Test, to fairly gauge a person’s aptitude for medicine and the health sciences.

“The test looks at a person’s problem solving and critical thinking skills” and was an early way to weed out those who might not be able to cut it in the medical programme despite scoring straight As.

The death of a houseman in Penang recently has led to a storm of discussion, with some claiming it could have been due to bullying although police investigations have yet to be completed.

The houseman fell to his death from his apartment on April 17, just three weeks after being posted to Penang general hospital. In December 2020, a trainee doctor at Penang Hospital also fell to his death, three weeks after quitting his job.

An independent task force is probing the houseman’s death, while health minister Khairy Jamaluddin had said specialists were among five “bully doctors” who had been named.

Penang Health Dept confirms death of houseman

Look at policies that led to houseman bullying, says health group

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