KUCHING, May 19 — Satok assemblyman Datuk Ibrahim Baki today alleged that the bullying of housemen was also happening in public hospitals in Sarawak and was not restricted to Peninsular Malaysia.
“We have to admit the fact that this is an open secret amongst fresh medical graduates, nurses and their parents,” he said during the debate on Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s address at the opening of the State Assembly.
“Bullying house officers in the public hospitals has become so toxic and disgusting that we should not pretend that it doesn’t exist or, worse still, sweep the issue under the carpet,” said Ibrahim, who is Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state assembly chief whip.
He said he has heard of cases in which fresh medical graduates suffered emotionally and mentally, to the extent that some of them even have to be referred to psychiatrists.
He added some of these bright young medical graduates were potentially future specialists who could contribute greatly to our state.
“However, due to a bullying culture that they can no longer stand, some have to quit the profession,” he said, adding that harsh and inhumane ill-treatment of junior doctors doing housemanship in state hospital should be avoided at all costs.
“A houseman’s death in Penang has raised questions regarding the toxic work environment faced by the trainee doctors in public hospitals, including in Sarawak,” he said, adding that to subject the house officers to such bullying is not the right thing to do.
Ibrahim said senior doctors or specialists should not treat fresh graduates just starting out as slaves and “punching bags”.
He suggested for a proper guideline on the supervision of fresh medical graduates or house officers should be formulated by the Ministry of Health.
“Senior doctors and specialists should be given proper professional training on how to supervise house officers with the sole aim as to make them competent doctors.
“They should treat fresh medical graduates with decorum, civility and respect. Junior doctors should be treated as equals by seniors as normally practised in the United Kingdom or Australia and other developed countries,” he said.
He said junior doctors should be treated as colleagues, not as lowly beings who they can abuse and bully.
He suggested that the Ministry of Health should stipulate the maximum number of hours for fresh medical graduates.
“I would like to suggest the ministry establish a supervisory or Inspectorate committee that will visit the hospitals and listen to feedback from the housemen of whatever experiences they encountered during housemanship so that whatever problems arise can be nipped at the bud,” he said.
Ibrahim said every public hospital in Sarawak should establish a unit to help medical officers deal with emotional, and mental health problems and depression.