The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) hopes that policies being drawn up to tackle the issue of bullying at MOH (Ministry of Health) offices and facilities will not just be seen on paper but in practice as well.
There must be follow-through on the ground and at every level on these policies in order to see any meaningful change in the work environment and culture.
While the findings of the Healthcare Work Culture Improvement Task Force (HWCITF) looking into bullying found that 60 per cent of the respondents perceived the work culture in the ministry to be positive, it was confirmed by 20 per cent in the survey conducted that bullying does exist.
Now that we know that the issue of bullying in MOH is indeed prevalent and not hearsay, the ministry needs to act by ensuring a comprehensive policy based on the recommendations of the task force to successfully eradicate the problem once and for all.
A new code of conduct for MOH employees and a system that includes consistent enforcement and continuous measurement for improvement and progress in this area needs to be developed to transform the work culture.
The code of conduct must emphasise respect among colleagues as its main pillar. In healthcare, respect for people should be an innate quality among all those serving.
MMA wishes to thank the task force for completing the report and for coming out with recommendations on how to improve the system within MOH.
It is not surprising to see some criticising the report due to various shortcomings in the way the study was done and also in the final reporting, as noted in the many media reports.
It is noted that the study was rather comprehensive with an attempt to involve personnel in the various services within the ministry. We appreciate that the task force went to great lengths to reach out to the various respondents in different parts of the country.
The data compiled would have been more robust if there was an even higher number of respondents and if more health care facilities were included. The outcome from the study has shown that there are indeed shortcomings within the Ministry of Health that need urgent attention.
With this report, no one can just close an eye and carry on working within the service as if all is well.
The Ministry of Health has to accept the recommendations brought forth by the task force and work on implementing them. A time frame should be given for a review to be done to see the effects of the implementation of such recommendations and for MOH to come out with further recommendations if needed.
We also believe that the HelpDoc platform that MMA set up in 2017 to report issues of bullying will have an important role going forward. We encourage healthcare workers affected to fully utilise the platform. MMA will do all it can to help them.
Dr Koh Kar Chai is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
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