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Thursday, May 12, 2022

All seven in ‘bully doctor list’ to undergo internal probe


Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed that those who were flagged in a recent list of medical practitioners alleged to be involved in bullying will undergo an internal probe.

When met by reporters at an International Nursing Day event at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya, Khairy acknowledged he has received the aforementioned list.

He also confirmed an independent taskforce alongside the ministry’s integrity unit will be carrying out the probe.

“When these names surface, they must be investigated through our integrity unit, regular disciplinary investigation.

“Once the investigation is completed, the report on the accusations will be provided. Currently, we are receiving many accusations. Doctors and specialists who are supposedly, or said to be bullying junior doctors.

“So to be fair to all parties, we must go through a thorough process that will be later brought to me so that is the internal process, which we normally conduct,” Khairy told reporters.

He said the independent taskforce’s lineup will be announced tomorrow, adding that he will not be chairing it.

The probe will take a few weeks, he said, given the gravity of the accusations.

The probe is set to involve interview sessions between the investigating bodies, the victims, and those accused.

Previously, Penanti state assemblyperson Norlela Ariffin and Negeri Sembilan state health exco S Veerapan handed seven names of alleged doctor bullies to the Health Ministry.

That followed the death of a junior doctor attached to the Penang General Hospital - whose body was found outside a multi-storey building on April 17.

On May 6, the Health Ministry announced it will set up a taskforce to investigate the death of the junior doctor and allegations of bullying in the medical fraternity.

Today, Khairy also observed that a number of those on the list were specialist doctors - which he claimed made it hard for them to be transferred based on the allegations.

“We cannot simply just transfer, we have to establish first what has taken place.

“What we see is a report being made. When a report is made, we will suspend or transfer the doctors.

“The list of names sent to me also consists of specialist doctors. It is not easy to transfer specialists.

“For the time being, all will be carrying out their duties as usual. The investigation will be carried out,” he said.

Doctors not allowed to speak to press

According to Free Malaysia Today, the Health Ministry is now displaying a 1995 policy on its official website.

The policy states that ministry staff are prohibited from making public statements to the press directly, or towards the public during forums.

Further, Health Ministry staff are barred from publishing their personal views on any platform that could bring the government into ill repute.

At the same event today, Khairy claimed the display of the notice was not a result of the backlash faced by the ministry.

The public backlash came after various media reports anonymously quoted doctors and house officers who alleged they were victims of bullying and harassment in hospitals across the country.

“Those are regular orders. Only those authorised to make statements can do so. It is not in relation to this case,” he said.

He added that what is important is that the ministry takes all allegations made seriously and that an investigation is carried out fairly and thoroughly.

Khairy went on to say while he is not condemning those who take to social media to make their complaints, a complaint through the proper channels must be made for the ministry to take action.

“While I see these allegations as being serious, as a minister, I cannot take action on accusations made on social media.

“It must go through thorough and appropriate channels,” said Khairy. - Mkini

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