There is no strong evidence linking the death of a houseman attached to the Penang Hospital (HPP) with elements of bullying at the workplace, an analysis by the Healthcare Work Culture Improvement Task Force has revealed.
HWCITF chairman Siti Hamisah Tapsir said the analysis was done on the health ministry's Integrity Unit’s Detection and Verification Report on the incident.
"HWCITF maintains this view as long as there is no additional information related to the death of the houseman received from the police following their investigations into the case," she said at the media briefing on the Healthcare Work Culture Improvement Report 2022 in Putrajaya today.
The HWCITF was set up on May 13 following the death of the houseman attached to HPP, and in light of reports and complaints received on bullying incidents and psychological stress faced by housemen as well as health service staff.
The 25-year-old houseman was found dead on April 17. He was believed to have fallen from his apartment building near HPP.
On the findings of a survey on the healthcare work culture involving 110,411 respondents from the health ministry, Siti Hamisah said 60% of them stated that the ministry work culture was positive, especially in regards to patient care, community and teamwork.
She said incidents of burnout, bullying and unhealthy work culture did occur at the ministry but at different levels and not at all health facilities.
"The bullying culture does not only occur among housemen, but across all levels of health ministry employees, either directly or indirectly.
"Among the contributing factors are a lack of competence, skills and level of readiness to carry out the assigned tasks," she said.
Siti Hamisah said the task force also found that compliance with the housemen's flexible work system was not comprehensive while housemen’s training was not consistent from one hospital to another.
The long working hours for housemen was also listed in the report.
"Hence, the HWCITF proposes a more structured and consistent approach through compliance and strengthening of the existing standards and guidelines," she said.
Siti Hamisah said the task force also found a need to optimise the number of human resources and infrastructure facilities to ensure the continuity of the best patient care.
"Most of the work is still carried out manually, and the lack of digitalisation has caused an increase in avoidable workload and delays in the delivery of health services," she said.
The HWCITF also outlined 10 main recommendations to improve and empower health services at the health ministry and all its facilities, including the improvement of the e-housemen system and the establishment of a housemen support group.
"The proposed improvement of work culture must not have a negative impact on the quality of the medical officers and services," she said.