Wollongong Hospital should be “on notice” after damning findings in a staff survey, the Australian Medical Association claims.
The hospital scored an F for staff well-being in the 2018 Hospital Health Check, with almost 50 per cent of junior doctors experiencing bullying and harassment.
Alarmingly, three quarters of those surveyed feared there would be negative consequences if they reported inappropriate behaviour.
Ms Kennedy, chair of the AMA Council of Doctors-in-Training, said the Hospital Health Check was established in 2017.
“We implemented it to try and encourage accountability for hospitals by providing a confidential way for junior doctors to report on their working and training conditions,” Ms Kennedy said.
“Two major themes emerged from the 2017 survey – firstly it highlighted that junior doctors were working a lot longer than the hours they were rostered or paid for.
“Secondly the well-being scores revealed that junior doctors were experiencing, and witnessing, bullying and harassment – and were worried about reporting that.
“There’s been similar themes in the 2018 survey, and there’s even been a drop in overall scores for well-being, so we’re not seeing that change that we’d like.”
Wollongong Hospital’s staff well-being score fell from D to F over the two surveys.
“Hopefully the hospital is on notice, that this is a problem that really needs to be a priority,” Ms Kennedy said.
“The hospital needs to improve their reporting lines and processes so junior doctors feel safe reporting their concerns, and the hospital then needs to act on those reports and undertake proper investigations.”
She said the hospital must take a “holistic approach” to support junior doctors and educate senior staff.
“It’s often a busy and stressful work environment at major hospitals like Wollongong, so it leaves supervisors less time to manage and deal better with their junior staff,” she said.
“So the hospital needs to support everyone to work together to better care for their patients
“It’s not about punishing perpetrators, but working with them to educate and help them find better ways to lead, to manage and to teach.”
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Executive Director Medical Services and Clinical Governance, Dr Mark Bassett, said the survey offered opportunities for the hospital to improve performance.
“The district does not condone bullying, aggression or violence in the workplace,” he said.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment and we are constantly working to develop a workplace culture whereby any staff member who is bullied or witnesses bullying, feels comfortable and safe to report that activity.”
He said the district was currently developing a code of conduct to promote better relations between senior and junior medical officers. As well a newly created position, Manager Medical Education and JMO (junior medical officer) Well-being, was about to be filled.
“A key component of their role will be to facilitate and support the development of JMO education and training,” he said, “and to promote programs to improve JMO well-being including mentorship and support for JMOs experiencing difficulties or stress.”