I read with interest the article “Accused Of ‘Wage Theft’, UMMC Says Only ‘Authorised’ On-Call Staff Are Paid”, and would like to respond.
My undergraduate medical studies and postgraduate in orthopaedic surgery were both done in the University of Malaya (UM). Over these years I served as a member of the student council and was very involved with the planning of many major university events, both in and out of the hospital.
Most of my journey in UM was pleasant, and I had the privilege of being taught and mentored by many great lecturers, most of which are currently still there.
However, there are a few fundamentals that need some looking into, most of which are unresolved because “no one dares to voice up”. In fact, during the previous town hall with Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, a clinical lecturer was noted to have told the Master’s trainees “not to attend as it may affect you in the future”.
The immediate response by Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) director Prof Nazirah Hasnan that “weekend rounds do not get claims” is really not right.
Coming from the nation’s top university (hospital), one should rather instruct heads of departments to look into the matter and find out why doctors are working without any claims (some up to a full day), and be more helpful about it.
How can you call yourself an educator when your response completely lacks empathy?
About three years ago, I conducted a survey among house officers to look at issues faced by them, from bullying and work culture to facilities in the hospital.
After a brief presentation to the top administration of the hospital, I was issued a warning letter and told that the survey I did was something illegal as it would tarnish the image of the institution.
This is very surprising, as the results were presented internally, and not on any social media platform. Evidently, input from the ground was not appreciated (unless done via a top-down mechanism)
The core principle of work is that there are wages.
Based on MOH’s circular of “bertugas lebih 4 jam” a doctor that works over the weekend is eligible for a passive on-call claim. Getting a doctor to work on a Saturday and Sunday and telling them “you cannot claim” is essentially saying that they have to work for free.
This is not only happening in UMMC, but also other centres. Immediate action should be taken to stop this nonsense — just because doctors have been tolerant does not mean it is the right thing to do!
I urge heads of university hospitals to look into these fundamentals. In the chase for world rankings and research publications, we should not be neglecting such issues!
Dr Timothy Cheng did his undergraduate medical studies and postgraduate in orthopaedic surgery in the University of Malaya and Universiti Malaya Medical Center.
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