Forum: Cash reward good, but look into welfare of junior doctors too

I refer to the letter, "Covid-19 cash award recipients include house officers" (Jan 1).

Beyond monetary rewards, a review of junior doctors' duty hours would be timely. Junior doctors can clock more than 30 hours of continuous work for each night call, depending on the departments they are deployed to.

One would question the effectiveness of any worker after even 12 hours of continuous work. A clinical oversight may happen due to the lack of rest.

Furthermore, the junior doctor rests less than 24 hours after the call before reporting to work again.

A typical work day for junior doctors is, in theory, from 8am to 5pm, but is often not the case as they report for work before 7am and often end after 7pm. It is common for them to not have a decent meal break or a toilet break.

We need our young doctors to remain in good health to serve patients. Department heads can help ensure that there are enough meal breaks for doctors under their charge. Breaks should be made mandatory.

Other areas the medical fraternity could look into to improve the welfare of our junior doctors include comfortable call rooms, with a decent-sized table and bed, and clean toilets. Even having lockers for personal effects would go a long way.

During these Covid-19 times, let us support young doctors with a proper audit of their work hours and welfare to help them become effective medical professionals.

Joyce Chia

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