He/She wrote to the Star
IT has been almost a year since the sad passing of Dr Danny Lee. And from that incident until now, promises were made to ensure the well-being of houseman.
I refer to the report “Housemen still being overworked and bullied, sending some into depression” (The Star, April 14, 2012).
The Health Ministry (MOH) stated that housemen are supposed to work 60 hours a week with two off days.
But the sad reality is, that is not happening.
Let me shed some light on a typical houseman’s work day is. Depending on the posting, most of us have to be at the hospital as early as 6.30am (not taking into account where some of us live) and work up to 6.30pm. That is an average of 12 hours of work per day, seven days a week.
Further more, some of us have been working for 28 days straight with no break/off days (oncall nights, we work minimum 14 hours a night).
What is worse, in some postings, housemen are forced to work from 7am to 7pm.
And that is the reality of life as a houseman.
We are working in a hyper-stressed environment, overworked to our physical and mental limits and worse.
Not many houseman dare to complain as threats of extensions by their superiors constantly remind them that they have no say in anything as long as they carry the title “houseman”.
Please don’t get us wrong, some of us enjoy working but we do not enjoy working every single day with no proper break/off days.
My context of “off days” means a break from work between 24 hours and 48 hours.
So my question to the MOH, was the promise made about us working 60 hours a week true and will it be truly and strictly implemented or was it a publicity stunt?
I can assure you most housemen in other hospitals, still work an average of 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
We do not mind working long hours, but we mind not having two proper days off so that we can have a break from the stressed environment of the hospital.
I don’t think anyone should be working 7 days a week without at least a day off to rest. Is this really happening? Hospital based doctors still often do rounds on weekends even though they don’t work the full stretch which is covered by doctors-on-call.
However I must say complaining about 12 hour work days sounds very much like the pampered “Strawberry Generation”