Zaliha Vows No Compromise On Health Worker Bullying

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa vows no compromise on bullying of health care workers, urging them to use the MyHelp bullying complaints channel. An NST editorial says MyHelp and HWCITF aren’t working, otherwise doctors wouldn’t be writing to the press.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 – Dr Zaliha Mustafa has pledged to combat the bullying of health care workers in the Ministry of Health (MOH), after a survey showed up to 40 per cent bullying prevalence among doctors.

A poll conducted by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) last month among more than 700 government and private doctors, two-thirds of whom were medical officers, showed that between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of respondents across all states reported experiencing some form of bullying.

“I wish to stress that the MOH cares for the welfare of all health workers,” the health minister said in a statement yesterday.

“Therefore, if there are bullying incidents among MOH staff, the MOH will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against the relevant parties.”

Dr Zaliha urged health care workers to report bullying to the MOH’s MyHelp channel for bullying complaints by MOH staff, a complaints channel that she said was “transparent with high confidentiality levels”.

An editorial by the New Straits Times yesterday, in response to MMA’s survey, said “there is something seriously wrong” with the management of issues in the MOH.

“Helplines such as MyHelp and the Healthcare Work Culture Improvement Task Force (HWCTIF) aren’t working. If they were, the doctors would not be writing to CodeBlue.”

CodeBlue reported recently that a U29 assistant environmental health officer (PPKP) was allegedly summoned for filing an internal complaint via the MOH’s SISPAA channel against workplace bullying from superiors. 

The Health Inspectors Union Peninsular Malaysia (KIKSM) has demanded an independent investigation from the MOH’s top leadership.

Dr Zaliha said the HWCITF – which had released its report in August last year, following the death of a Penang Hospital houseman – was in constant engagement with the MOH.

“I wish to reiterate that the MOH takes this seriously and will not compromise on the issue of bullying of health care workers. We are committed to ensuring that this does not occur in health care facilities nationwide.”

HWCTIF’s 162-page report found that only 7 per cent of more than 110,000 respondents across all 30 service schemes in the MOH reported experiencing workplace bullying or harassment. 

The independent task force did not provide figures on bullying prevalence specifically among medical practitioners in grades 41 and above, who comprised just 23 per cent of respondents. Housemen or junior medical officers comprised only one in 10 respondents.

Instead, HWCITF merely concluded that bullying in MOH was of “different levels” and was not occurring in every single public health care facility.   

Prior to MMA’s survey last month among over 700 government and private doctors, a separate survey by CodeBlue conducted last January among more than 1,600 government health care workers found 41 per cent bullying and 6 per cent sexual harassment prevalence among house officers.

About 25 per cent and 2 per cent of medical officers complained about experiencing bullying and sexual harassment respectively; the same figures were found for the overall sample.

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