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Housemen may have to serve 5-year term (NST) – Agree or Not?

January 28, 2010

By: Dr^Waqipedia

PUTRAJAYA: Doctors may have to extend their compulsory public service from the current three years to at least five years. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk T. Murugiah said there was an urgent need for doctors and it was time for the issue to be resolved quickly.

“We will be submitting our suggestions to the ministries and agencies that are relevant in addressing this issue by next month,” he said after meeting Public Service Commission officers here yesterday.

The present three years of public service for doctors was too short, he said.

They should serve the government for five to 10 years. “We are aiming to achieve the doctor per patient ratio of 1: 250 in the future,” he said adding that the current ratio stood at 1: 600.

He said the medical field was also facing shortage of dentists, veterinarians and pharmacists but the need for doctors was more critical.

Murugiah said he would send the proposal to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in the Prime Minister’s Department, the Health Ministry and the Public Service Department.

“With the extension of public service, doctors would gain more experience.

Murugiah said 50,756 civil servants, including those undergoing paramedical training were recruited last year.

The government received more than seven million applications, with almost 200,000 applicants showing up for interviews.


I got YM message from my friend this morning telling me about the newly proposed five years duration of compulsory public service (housemanship) from the current three years. I am sure that this new statement would cause uproar among the house officer (HO) and medical students. According to the statement above, I summarize the reasons of such proposal being put as:

  1. Rising need for doctor’s service in government hospital due to lack in number
  2. To help the new doctors to gain more experience

I don’t have any objection of second reason but not for the first one. Malaysian government should realize better that it was all are the consequences of how the doctors were treated in the government hospitals. Besides being over-worked in the hospitals, minimum time for rest, there are also other issues such as bullying and high-handedness by senior doctors and specialist.

Housemen are suffering in hospitals

Being stranded with that kind of situation will distorted the ability of doctors to treat patients, to think wisely and make a right decision. Look how a houseman in HKL is expected to work, 7 days per week comprising 5 days of 12-hour days and 2 days of a 36-hour continuous stretch all totalling about 110 hours per week. The average working week for all Malaysians is 40 hours per week and the labour laws allow up to 48 hours per week. So a houseman works up to three times more than a normal Malaysian.

Is that fair? Does it live up to human right? Or as a Muslim, did you find it a torment? Of course they are being paid RM100 for 24 hours of work (the other 12 hours is already paid as salary) but does the pitiful amount of RM4 per hour is enough for them who has to forgo their sleep, family and social life.

A houseman has to work for long hours in a very demanding working environment; deal with many sick patients, emergencies and trauma patients, etc. No doubt this environment is to be expected in a hospital but coupled with the crazy hours, being always on their feet, the irregular meal times and the low income; I doubt many people will last long as housemen.

The housemanship for these young doctors is two years and during this period they are not allowed to take medical leave- if they fall sick, the leave taken will be deducted from their annual leave. Any parent with a son or daughter as a houseman can tell the suffering that their child is going through.

In fact, during this two-year housemanship, their life is almost non-existent as all they want to do after work is to go to sleep. In fact, some of them have become withdrawn and suffer from depression and anxiety.

Solution for betterment

Extending the compulsory service is not the best solution of tackling the lack in number of doctors in hospitals when we already know how bad they were being treated in hospitals. I believe that this is the real culprit that causes a lot of doctors to stop working for government and go to private.

I guess as long as the government serve them well, they will think twice to forfeit their services. The main problem with our present government is that its ministries are filled with opportunist politicians, while there is a serious lack of professional specialists. The top persons are there for show, making noise and creating chaos. Many ministries are in a mess. The Health Ministry is no different.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2010 2.45 am01

    nice la, waqi.. agree with you..

    kat UK, Ireland, n here in Czech, housemen dorang setahun je, n they all are much much more relax than in malaysia.. so, the 2nd reason’s quite rediculous..

  2. Dr^Waqipedia permalink*
    January 29, 2010 2.45 am01

    w’salam mat noor…

    mungkin betul dgn cara menambahkan bilangan tahun,lebih banyak yg dpt kita pelajari tapi punca kpd masalah ini semua adalah berkaitan dgn ‘treatment’ yg diterima oleh houseman2 kita…

    bagi aku, jika kerajaan menjaga hati mereka, melayani permintaan mereka utk hidup seperti ‘manusia’, insyallah dgn sendirinya hati2 mereka akan tertarik utk stay dgn government. tidak semua tertarik utk ke private kerana mahukan wang, ramai shj yg mahukan simple life dan enjoy kerja yg dilakukan

    kita bukan nya lembu yg perlu dicucuk hidung, sbb kita boleh berfikir baik dan buruk.

    utk aku sendiri, jika ada org mempersoalkan keikhlasan, insyallah ada tetapi jika ditekan sebegini rupa, pasti lain jadinya. lagipun, bekerja di hospital 24 jam tidak sama dgn memasuki kawasan2 pedalaman @ ke luar negara atas tujuan sukarelawan. utk mendapat peluang seperti ini, private lah jawapannya.

    sesuai juga dgn wawasan 2020, kita sepatutnya mengharapkan negara kita akan mencapai tahap seperti negara maju lain – good quality service at all places. jangan lah menggunakan alasan, dulu pun kami susah jugak. it’s shameful jika gunakan alasan ini. kita seharusnya memperbaiki setiap aspek. evolving to betterment

  3. January 29, 2010 2.45 pm01

    a very very good and eye-opening article written from a medical student’s point of view.. worth reading..

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