KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 – Penang exco Dr Norlela Ariffin has sent Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin the names of five doctors in Penang Hospital allegedly causing workplace bullying, including a head of department.
These five medical practitioners, she clarified, allegedly engaged in bullying in the Penang public hospital in general and are not connected per se to the recent death of a house officer that is currently under a police investigation.
“I’ve sent the names of the five most famous bullies at GH to YB KJ,” Dr Norlela, who is the state executive councillor for agro-tech and food security, rural development and health, told CodeBlue.
Sinar Harian reported separately that Negeri Sembilan executive councillor in charge of health, environment, cooperatives and consumerism S. Veerapan has asked the Negeri Sembilan state health department to investigate two reports he received on the bullying of junior doctors, or house officers, in two hospitals in the state.
Dr Norlela said that Penang state health department informed her verbally yesterday that she cannot organise a state exco (MMK) meeting with some 300 house officers across the state to officially document their views on bullying in the medical profession.
The state health department (JKN), which is under the federal Ministry of Health’s (MOH) jurisdiction, suggested instead that Dr Norlela meet with the housemen informally or use a Google Form to collect their views.
JKN told her that the trainee doctors would be meeting with the state health director, Dr Ma’arof Sudin.
“My proposed MMK meeting with housemen, numbering 300 in Penang, may not go as planned because the housemen are under the purview of MOH and JKN and they want to have an internal meeting with the housemen,” Dr Norlela said.
“I was advised that the housemen may be worried about the risk of speaking up in a formal state exco health meeting.”
Housemen, medical officers, and state health departments across the country are under the jurisdiction of the federal MOH, not state governments.
“MOH has this very closed system,” Dr Norlela said. “They don’t want their problems taken outside.”
The Penang exco said she received the names of the five “biggest” bullies at Penang Hospital from government doctors who gave her the results of informal surveys among their peers on the issue of workplace bullying that cut across seniority levels.
“Even senior doctors say they have the same problems – no promotion etc. It’s not just housemen, but even administrators.”
Khairy recently announced that MOH would form an independent task force to investigate the April 17 death of a Penang Hospital house officer from a fall and the alleged bullying culture in public hospitals.