MOH Task Force: 60% Of Govt Hospital Staff Find Hospitals A 'Positive' Workplace

The task force said it also found no evidence of bullying in the death of a Penang Hospital houseman in April this year.

Cover image via Bernama/Free Malaysia Today & New Straits Times

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A Ministry of Health (MOH) task force survey has found that at least 60% of government healthcare workers think their workplace culture is positive

In a statement on Wednesday, 17 August, the Healthcare Work Culture Improvement Task Force (HWCITF) said it carried out a survey involving some 100,000 staff members in the country, spanning over the past four months.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin set up the independent task force and ordered an investigation into claims of toxic workplace culture and bullying at government hospitals, especially following the death of a houseman from Penang Hospital, in April this year.

The task force is headed by UCSI University vice-chancellor Siti Hamisah Tapsir.

Image via Bernama/Free Malaysia Today

HWCITF also said it found no concrete evidence of workplace bullying linked to the death of the Penang Hospital houseman

However, the task force noted that there were "varying levels" of burnout and bullying in government healthcare facilities. It said the incidents affected government healthcare workers of all grades.

It also said "contributing factors" to the incidents were the lack of efficiency, skills, and preparation for the work that the employees had been assigned.

The task force also found that healthcare workers are overworked and subject to long working hours due to the different hospitals' failure to comply with guidelines set by the ministry, as well as a lack of human resources and infrastructure.

Thus, the task force outlined 10 proposals to MOH, including reviewing its guidelines, digitalising the workforce for easier workflow, and implementing screening of incoming candidates before employment

"We feel that a career in healthcare service is very challenging and requires individuals who are really committed and willing to go through the training and challenges of the workplace environment," the task force said.

"They should also be prepared to face the high burden of workload and long periods of work."

The task force also suggested that the work culture should be improved without affecting the many more healthcare workers who already feel that they have been trained in a conducive environment and provide good service.

The survey, however, does not have a separate category that looked into the bullying faced by housemen, which was the reason why the task force was set up to solve the first place

Malaysia healthcare news portal CodeBlue has pointed out that housemen and junior medical officers only comprised 11% of respondents of the survey. The other healthcare workers included in the survey were nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and non-clinical workers such as drivers and administration assistants.

Although the respondents also admitted to the presence of bullying within the workplace, CodeBlue highlighted that HWCITF's report did not define what was considered "low-level" or "severe" bullying.

The full findings of the MOH survey can be found here.

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For a more thorough directory of resources, head over to the websites of Malaysian Mental Health Association or MINDAKAMI.

On April 17, a houseman fell to his death from his apartment just three weeks after being posted to Penang Hospital:

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has said that housemen need the training system to prepare for the hard life of being a doctor:

Despite this, many Malaysian junior doctors continue to voice their dissatisfaction over the poor training system and employment terms within the civil service: