24th Feb 2021
Dr Wan Rizal
MP for Jalan Besar GRC
Question No. 478
To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether there has been an increase in cases of harassment against healthcare workers; and (b) how many times has the Protection from Harassment Act been enforced in the past few years
1 The Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) protects all individuals, including healthcare workers, from harassment. Public healthcare workers receive enhanced protection under Section 6 of the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) while they are on duty.
2 Based on data provided by our public healthcare institutions, the number of abuse or harassment cases of public healthcare workers while on duty, has been increasing over the past three years from about 1,080 in 2018 to about 1,300 in 2020. Over the same period, the number of such cases which were reported to the Police under Section 6 of the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), has also similarly risen from 40 in 2018 to 58 in 2020.
3 Our public healthcare institutions are committed to ensure a safe workplace environment. Members of the public are reminded through prominently displayed signages to treat healthcare workers with respect and dignity, and that any form of verbal or physical abuse will not be tolerated. Our public healthcare institutions are also committed to protecting and supporting their staff who face harassment. They have established escalation processes for frontline healthcare workers who are verbally or physically harassed, including notifying their immediate superiors, referral to security officers on-site or reporting to the Police. Frontline healthcare staff are also trained to assess and de-escalate potential conflicts in the first instance and manage abusive situations. Aside from the incident reporting process, the institutions also provide support through helplines for affected staff, anonymised counselling support services, and peer support programmes for staff.
4 MOH and our institutions treat all cases of abuse and harassment against our healthcare workers seriously. We adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards abuse and harassment of our healthcare staff and will not hesitate to take appropriate actions against persons who do so.