System that's a burden to many housemen

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - A 27-year-old houseman lamented that although the shift system was good, it was poorly implemented at his hospital.

He claimed that it was up to each department to implement the system.

The houseman alleged that when he first joined the hospital, he had to work 92 hours a week and on 24-hour shifts for up to one and a half months.

But things improved after someone brought up the issue to the management.

However, for departments that lacked housemen, they had to work long hours and without on-call allowance.

This was because allowances were not provided for in the shift system and housemen were not expected to work more than 72 hours a week, he added.

The houseman said they were paid a fixed RM600 (S$245) a month but without the RM100 to RM200 allowance for each on-call duty.

He also claimed that eight housemen suffered depression and were under psychiatric observation as they could not take the bullying from senior doctors, whom he said constantly shouted and belittled them.

They were also burdened with a training duration that was extended from four to six or seven months for each department.

"One houseman went into depression after he failed his assessment twice," he said, adding that some housemen got themselves transferred to another hospital or just resigned.

Another houseman Dr G.M. Pillai, 28, said Ipoh Hospital was trying its best to adhere to the rules set by the Health Ministry.

"We work 60 to 65 hours a week and sometimes up to 70 hours. But if we have to work up to 70 hours, we are given less hours the following week," he said.

Before the shift system was introduced, he had worked up to 36 hours.

But, after it was implemented, the hours were capped at a maximum of 20 and they get a whole day off the next day, he said.

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