Nearly three-quarters of junior doctors at Wollongong Hospital are concerned about making a clinical error due to fatigue, a new report reveals.
Almost two-thirds of the hospital's doctors-in-training surveyed for the 2019 Hospital Health Check were also concerned about their personal health or safety due to exhaustion caused by long hours.
A third of the junior doctors said their rostered hours 'never' matched the hours they were expected to be at work; while 65 per cent felt the workload was either 'somewhat' or 'far too heavy'.
Staff gave Wollongong Hospital a 'C' grade for the overtime and rostering category in this year's survey, which is run statewide and also looks at four other indicators of staff satisfaction.
Across NSW, 1958 doctors were surveyed - accounting for more than 20 per cent of all doctors-in-training working in the state.
Last year Wollongong Hospital scored an 'F' for the well-being category; this year that's improved slightly to a 'D'.
However, 44 per cent of the 123 junior doctors surveyed locally still rated the hospital's support for their mental health and well-being as 'poor' or 'very poor'.
Meantime nearly 40 per cent of respondents said they'd felt unsafe at work due to verbal or physical intimidation or threats from patients or staff.
And almost 45 per cent had experienced bullying, discrimination or harassment from another staff member at the hospital. Sixty per cent had witnessed a colleague being bullied or harassed.
Disturbingly, two thirds of those surveyed were concerned there might be negative consequences for them if they reported inappropriate workplace behaviours. And a third of them didn't even know who they would report them to.
Wollongong Hospital received an overall 'C' grade in the survey; with a 'B' for the Access to Leave and Morale and Culture sections. The remaining Education and Training section got a score of 'C'.
It's the third year in a row the survey has been run by The Alliance - which incorporates the Australian Medical Association and the doctors' union ASMOF.
However this year's survey results were released amid a bitter feud between the NSW branches of the AMA and ASMOF, with the former moving to dissolve the Alliance.
Labor's health spokesman, Keira MP Ryan Park, said the results of the statewide survey painted a "deeply concerning picture".
"Our junior doctors shouldn't be placed under such crushing pressure," he said.
"The government must act as soon as possible, patient safety is at risk here, as is the health and safety of a whole generation of doctors working in our health system."
Health district's measures to address issues
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District executive director medical services and clinical governance Dr Mark Bassett welcomed the release of the report, which he said provided an opportunity to "assess and improve the experience of our doctors in training".
"It is extremely encouraging to see Wollongong Hospital's improvement in a number of the survey's categories," he said.
"We greatly value our extremely talented, dedicated and hard-working doctors in training and acknowledge the incredible work they do every day, in often challenging circumstances."
Dr Bassett said the district had undertaken a number of significant measures to address issues of concern including bullying and harassment, working hours and staffing levels.
One key initiative had been the creation of the Manager Medical Education and Junior Medical Officer Well-being position to focus specifically on JMO well-being across the district.
Further measures to help improve junior doctor well-being included improved rostering practices and continual monitoring of safe working hours and improved processes for claiming unrostered overtime.
There was a new intranet site for ease of access to relevant information as well as junior doctor well-being sessions, forums and support services.
"We are committed to open communication and collaboration with our doctors, in encouraging them to talk to their supervisor and contact their Director of Medical Services or hospital general manager, if they feel they need additional support," Dr Bassett said.
Other initiatives which reflected the district's zero tolerance of bullying and harassment in the workplace included the launch of the Speak-Up Campaign dedicated to the ongoing education of staff around preventing and managing unacceptable workplace behaviour.
A confidential reporting system allowing staff to safely report instances of unacceptable workplace behaviour had also been implemented.