“Explain housemen shortage at UMMC’s Medicine Dept,” Health Ministry told

A MEDICAL group has called for the Health Ministry (MOH) to explain the reasons behind housemen shortages following reports on the issue by health news portal CodeBlue.

In a report dated Jan 15, the news portal reported that a dire shortage of housemen is forcing the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) Department of Medicine to consider adopting a Zero-HO (no housemen) Protocol.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz said as over 70% of the population depended on the public healthcare system for their healthcare needs, any shortages of housemen at healthcare facilities is a matter of concern as it will have an impact on the delivery of public healthcare services.

“It is perplexing to hear that there are housemen shortages especially since between 3,000 to 5,000 medical graduates are being produced each year,” Dr Azizan pointed out in a statement on Friday (Jan 19).

“How many of these medical graduates have entered the healthcare system in the last three years and how many have resigned? How many are not interested in clinical work?

“An e-HO portal was set-up for medical graduates to choose their preferred location for their placements but are all of them applying? Are medical graduates being too selective over where they wish to serve? The MMA hopes the MOH will shed light on this issue.”

Citing ground sentiments that have indicated that there were glitches in the e-HO system, Dr Azizan expressed hope that sufficient steps have been taken by the government to rectify the technical issues.

“An explanation from the MOH leadership would help allay the many concerns expressed by colleagues and members of the public concerning the housemen shortages,” she added.

She went on to refer to the CodeBlue report, which revealed that UMMC’s Medicine Department is also cutting services and collecting reported cases of sub-optimal care or “near misses” resulting from manpower shortage.

“The cutting of services is a concern to be addressed as UMMC is the main public hospital serving the people of Petaling Jaya, which is a major town in Selangor,” Dr Azizan remarked.

“There are also concerns that the workload of Medical Officers (MOs) at UMMC will significantly increase if there is a Zero HO Protocol.

“We fear this may potentially lead to further burnout and over time, resignations among MOs frustrated with the system.”

As UMMC is a healthcare facility under the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE), Dr Azizan hoped that both the MOH and MOHE will work together towards a more sustainable solution concerning the placements of housemen, housemanship training and the facility’s manpower issues.

“These issues have highlighted yet again the urgent need for detailed long-term planning of healthcare human resources and digitalisation of the public healthcare system for data driven, informed decisions,” she stressed.

“We also hope this issue will not extend to the Defence Ministry’s healthcare facilities.

“With detailed monitoring of real time data on the public healthcare workforce, we believe these gaps in the distribution of healthcare workers seen nationwide can be efficiently and effectively addressed.” – Jan 19, 2024

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