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07 Nov 2022

14th Jul 2015

13 July 2015

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr K Karthikeyan
Nominated MP

Question No. 600

To ask the Minister for Health whether there are attempts by the Ministry to reduce the long continuous working hours for housemen on night shifts and, if so, what are the measures considered.

Written Reply

1.     From May 2014, all house officers came under a national framework for training and assessment renamed the Postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1) training. For the PGY1 year, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) stipulates that work should not exceed 80 hours per week, including night call hours. However, the SMC also stipulates at least 4 night calls per month for PGY1 doctors to learn how to manage acute conditions, under supervision, with the medical team at night. In addition, there should be at least 10 hours of rest between duty periods and an off day each week.

2.     PGY1 doctors cannot be scheduled for more than 24 hours of continuous active duty managing patients. For those who have completed a 24-hour duty period duty period, their hand-overs to colleagues or other activities (e.g. educational activities) should not take more than an additional six hours. Hospitals generally comply with these guidelines.

3.     With regard to the frequency and duration of night calls, some hospitals have started to implement a shift system thereby reducing long working hours in clinical departments where such work patterns are suitable. For example the half call is an extension of another five to six hours to the 8-hour day and the night float is a 10-hour overlapping night shift together with this. This avoids the more tiring 24-hour continuous duty type call. These overlapping shifts together with the steady increase in the number of house officers over the years have lessened the work hours and frequency of night calls.

Category: Parliamentary QA