MMA: HelpDoc receives 36 complaints on bullying since 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Thirty-six complaints of bullying among healthcare workers have been lodged through the HelpDoc helpline since it was launched in 2017.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Koh Kar Chai, however, said some complaints were retracted when the cases reached the "higher-ups" in the Health Ministry.

These cases, said Dr Koh, were handled by the deputy director-general in the ministry since they were deemed sensitive and needed to be handled in a confidential manner.

"The association (MMA) will usually carry out follow-ups to check on the development of these cases. There were some cases where the complainant decided to retract their report when it reached the higher-ups.

"When we reached out to them (complainant), many of them responded that they wanted to 'leave it (the cases) be.

"I think they did so perhaps due to personal reasons, which I cannot speak on behalf of them (complainant who retracted the complaint).

"I do not know the actual reason but I believe it is not because they (complainant who retracted the report) were threatened. Therefore, I cannot put words in their mouths," he told reporters here today.

The complaints who alleged bullying incidents, said Dr Koh, were among 120 cases received through the HelpDoc line.

The rest were reports received through the helpline, he said, and were related to work, career growth, posting, claims, and transfer.

He acknowledged that there was fear to speak out against other health practitioners, worrying that they might be reprimanded for lodging a complaint, but assured that measures were being taken to address the issue.

"This is something that we need to look at, as not only house officers experience this, but medical officers, and even consultants as well. We are holding regular dialogues with the Health Ministry to rectify this."

Dr Koh said help was readily available in hospitals in the form of special psychological units with trained psychiatrists and counsellors, to assist health practitioners in managing stress.

However, he said many junior doctors were afraid to go for counselling, as they were scared of being stigmatised and that it would affect their key performance indicators (KPI) for not being able to cope with stress at work.

"If you do not have an actual psychological disorder, then it would not be put into your KPI.

"Stress management for doctors is available in hospitals, where they can meet with counsellors and psychiatrists if they face any issues concerning work.

"These units have regular engagement sessions with doctors, and the doctors themselves can approach these counsellors if they feel stress," he added.

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