Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Health in each of the last three years (a) what is the percentage of annual leave days that junior doctors in public hospitals have applied for but have had to be ultimately forfeited or cancelled due to the shortage of manpower; (b) what is the average number of non-working rest hours for junior doctors after every 24-hour shift in the public hospitals; and (c) whether the Government will consider enhanced measures to ensure that there is no under-reporting of working hours by junior doctors.
Mr Ong Ye Kung: Between 2019 and 2021, Junior Doctors (that is, Medical Officers and Residents) took an average of between 14 and 18.9 days of annual leave. The lowest utilisation was in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. MOH does not track if leave days applied for were cancelled or forfeited as such decisions are made at the institution or departmental level.
Healthcare institutions (HCIs) use various methods, including electronic logging and surveys, to monitor the work hours and well-being of junior doctors. Based on annual surveys, about 90% of residents have had at least 10-hour intervals between duty periods and after in-house calls. Other proxy indicators such as late-night transport claims are also used to ensure that working hours are accurately reported. To date, we have not detected any systemic under-reporting of working hours.
In addition, MOH Holdings (MOHH) has a whistle blowing channel for all junior doctors to make anonymous reports. MOHH takes such feedback seriously and will investigate reported incidents.
The medical fraternity has a responsibility to take care of their juniors and take this duty seriously as a core undertaking of the profession. MOH has commissioned a national committee, chaired by a senior doctor, to lead initiatives to promote and improve the well-being of junior doctors in the public healthcare system.
Ministry of Health
9 January 2023