5:39pm 09/05/2022
Hospital bullying completely unacceptable
By:Sin Chew Daily

We all know it’s not easy to become a doctor. The journey to this end is a tortuous one, often full of challenges — but being bullied should not be one!

The incident of a Penang Hospital trainee doctor falling to his death has exposed the ugly phenomenon of hospital bullying and has since become the focal point of the Malaysian society.

We have heard of bullying at schools every now and then, and workplace bullying is also nothing new to us. What shocks us is that such terrifying acts do occur in our hospitals!

Health minister Khairy Jamaluddin says his ministry will set up an independent committee to probe the houseman’s tragic death and allegations of bullying.

A social media user has left a comment on the Facebook page of health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah urging the health ministry to put a complete stop to the bullying culture. In his reply, the DG said allegations of bullying must first be established, adding that house officers are now working on shift rotation basis.

Does bullying actually exist in our hospitals? After the tragic incident came to light, there have been quite a number of housemen, past and present, starting to make revelations anonymously to expose this brutal issue, including one that claimed she was made to work without rest for three weeks during her housemanship.

According to MMA (Malaysian Medical Association), some 120 complaints have been received by the association since 2017, 80% from trainee doctors, 15% from doctors and 5% from specialist doctors. Dr Koh Kar Chai, the association’s president, clarified that most of the complaints were not about bullying, as many would have believed. However, he admitted that bullying did exist as a matter of fact.

Noor Hisham was right when he said bullying was unacceptable, wherever it was, especially at hospitals. Nevertheless, from the various revelations made and information available, we can deduce that bullying at hospitals is not a recent development but has been around for some time. So, what have our health ministry and hospital authorities done these years to stop the bullying? Or have they been simply kept in the dark?

If even the MMA knows about this phenomenon, how on earth is the ministry unaware of this whole issue and has taken no action to protect the victims?

Hospital is a place where lives are being saved and respected, not where the self esteem of trainee doctors is deliberately trampled. Bullying at hospitals is a big irony to our society, as the bullies are the so-called highly educated elite of our society!

This prompts us to contemplate what has gone wrong with our system and culture that has given rise to bullying at our hospitals.

It is absolutely the right decision for the ministry to set up a committee to probe the trainee doctor’s death and allegations of bullying, but more importantly our hospital system and culture need to be comprehensively reviewed in a bid to eradicate such dehumanizing practice. Perhaps an effective platform should be made available for the victims to lodge complaints about bullying so that actions can be taken against the perpetrators.

We all know it is not easy to become a doctor. The journey to this end is a tortuous one, often full of challenges — but being bullied should not be one!

The health ministry is duty-bound to seriously look into this issue of bullying at our hospitals.



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