Most healthcare workers against new shift system, says medical group

Healthcare workers have expressed concern over the new two-shift system to be implemented at government clinics.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) says a majority of health ministry personnel disagree with the proposal for a shift system at government clinics, citing concerns over an increase in workload and the possibility of eventual burnout.

A poll done by the MMA showed that 92% of 9,320 participants disagreed with the system, implementation of which began yesterday. It is understood that four clinics in Selangor and one in Melaka are currently following the model.

About 84% said the system would increase their current workload while 89% said it would lead to a rise in work-related stress leading to eventual burnout.

The participants also said the health ministry should first address the shortage in staff as well as infrastructure issues, adding that all government clinics are understaffed and overworked.

A separate online poll conducted by Public Health Malaysia and cited by MMA meanwhile revealed that 63% of participants were against the new shift system.

MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran said the system would only work if the government addressed concerns over the lack of doctors, nurses and other support staff at healthcare facilities nationwide.

“Under the new two-shift system, there will be fewer healthcare workers working per shift due to these shortages.

“Our government clinics are overcrowded. There are peak times at the clinics where the shortage in staff will stress the system. This can greatly affect the quality of care,” he said in a statement.

Government clinics currently open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Under the new system, opening hours will be extended to 9.30pm, with staff working two shifts from 8am to 5pm and 12.30pm to closing.

Ganabaskaran said healthcare workers at these clinics were not only involved in diagnostic and therapeutic services, but also in Covid-19 screening and contact tracing as well as domiciliary care and community outreach programmes.

“Implementing the shift system will make it impossible to continue the care currently being provided,” he said, adding that a proper study should have been done with engagement with the relevant stakeholders before the system was put into place.

Urging the health ministry to conduct a more detailed study on the system, he said more engagement with stakeholders would also be necessary.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.