GEORGE TOWN: Doctors are calling for an independent task force to ensure there is no bullying and abuse of housemen, and urged the authorities to take a step back and look at the conditions of the healthcare system.

Offering insights into ways to bring change to housemanship programmes, they raised issues such as the lack of management skills, junior doctors need to be taught how to manage their stress, while superiors need to know how to manage and care for junior doctors.

These are some of the feedback from doctors given to the state health committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin.

“Medical Officers are expected to manage juniors in a high-stress environment. The problem is, they receive very little formal or informal training regarding human resource management, both on the job and in medical school.

“Bullying, name-calling, tie-pulling, body-shaming, physical and mental abuse still happens across all professions, but what sets us apart is the enablers, who are people who stand silently and let things happen as well as the lack of acknowledgment, education, prevention and support by all concerned parties,” said Dr Norlela in a recent Facebook post.

The doctors, consisting of locals and those practising overseas, shared their insights on the management of housemen in government hospitals in response to the issue of housemen abuse following the death of a junior doctor from Penang Hospital last month.

These Penang-based doctors said there was a need for an independent service commission for medical and healthcare services.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said yesterday that members of a task force to investigate the alleged bullying culture and the death of a houseman in Penang would be named today.

On May 4, the Penang Health Department confirmed that a graduate medical officer had fallen to his death on April 17, and the matter was being investigated.

He was stationed at Penang Hospital since April 4.

This is believed to be the second death involving a junior doctor in two years.

In Malaysia, housemanship is a period of internship that all medical graduates go through before becoming full-fledged doctors.