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Thursday, May 12, 2022

ILO calls for cultural change and cut in junior doctors’ working hours

 

The International Labour Organization says the excessively long hours put in by trainee doctors in Malaysia will have adverse effects on their patients. (Freepik pic)

GEORGE TOWN: The International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for a cultural change within the medical profession following expressions of concern over the long working hours junior doctors have to endure.

In a written reply to questions posed by FMT, the UN agency said long hours in any job would reduce productivity and performance in the long run.

In the case of doctors, it said, job-related fatigue would have adverse effects on patients.

“First and foremost, there needs to be a cultural change within the medical profession,” it said. “As long as long hours for junior doctors are viewed as a rite of passage within the medical community, nothing will change.”

There has recently been a deluge of allegations of abuse following the death of a junior doctor three weeks into his job at Penang Hospital.

“The main issue here is that the working hours of junior doctors in Malaysia are extremely long,” ILO said. “Indeed, such hours are excessive in many countries.

“Excessively long work hours have negative effects on occupational health and safety, work-life balance and individual productivity and performance.

“For example, it would be beneficial for the Malaysian Medical Association to promulgate guidelines (if they do not already exist) regarding the working conditions of junior doctors, including regarding their hours of work and rest periods.

“Limiting the working hours of any group of employees working excessive hours, including establishing and enforcing appropriate rest periods, would improve the situation.”

The present maximum working hours in the country is 48 hours a week, but a health ministry circular from 2019 caps the working hours of junior doctors and housemen at 62 hours a week .

However, junior doctors who spoke to FMT said they worked more than 75 hours. - FMT

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