Junior doctors have scored Wollongong Hospital a 'D' for looking after their well-being in a new survey, with 50 per cent having witnessed a colleague "bullied, discriminated against or harassed" at work.
Over a third of those surveyed for the 2020 Hospital Health Check said they'd experienced bullying, discrimination or harassment from another staff member.
And nearly three quarters said they feared negative consequences if they reported inappropriate workplace behaviours.
Meantime almost three out of 10 junior doctors said they felt unsafe at work due to verbal or physical intimidation or threats from patients or staff.
Overall, Wollongong Hospital received a C-grade average for a range of categories from the trainee doctors in the annual survey compiled by the Australian Medical Association NSW's Doctors in Training Committee.
The areas where the hospital fared the best with a 'B' include Morale & Culture, with around 45 per cent of those surveyed rating the work culture as 'good' or 'very good', and around four in 10 saying morale was good. Over three quarters said they'd recommend the hospital to other doctors-in-training.
Overtime & Rostering also received a B, with around 45 per cent of junior doctors claiming the workload was 'just right', though 50 per cent said it was 'somewhat too heavy'.
Concerningly around 65 per cent said they had been worried about making a clinical error due to fatigue at work.
Of the 77 trainee doctors surveyed, 20 per cent did 16 to 20 hours of overtime in an average fortnight; and nearly eight per cent clocked up more than 25 hours.
The doctors-in-training gave Access to Leave a C. Of concern in the current pandemic was the fact that over a third said they would 'rarely' take sick leave if they were sick, and 10 per cent said they'd never take sick leave.
The Education & Training category also received a C at Wollongong, a major training hospital.
Thirty per cent of trainee doctors thought the formal training provided was good, or very good. A quarter of respondents rated the ward-based training as good, and 40 per cent thought it was 'fair'.
In 2020, 1332 doctors-in-training completed the Hospital Health Check survey across the state, rating 34 major NSW hospitals.
Blacktown and Mt Druitt hospitals fared the worst, with two F's for Access to Leave and Well-being; while Manning Hospital also scored F for well-being.
Shoalhaven Hospital scored a 'D' for well-being, and C's in all other categories.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District executive director medical services and clinical governance Dr Peter Jansen said the district continued to improve the working lives of doctors in training and has undertaken significant measures to address issues of concern.
"ISLHD greatly values our extremely dedicated and hard-working doctors in training and acknowledge the incredible work they do every day, in challenging circumstances," he said.
"We have a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment and will support any staff member who reports such activity."
Dr Jansen said in recognition that hours of work were a major contributing factor to burn-out, stress levels and wellbeing, in 2018 NSW Health introduced safe work standards, including a maximum 14-hours for rostered shifts and a minimum 10-hour break between shifts.
He said the district produces monthly overtime reports to help ensure the maximum shift/minimum break times are enforced and there is now a steady downward trend in unrostered overtime.
A new position, 'manager medical education and junior medical officer (JMO) wellbeing', continues to drive improvements brought in under the statewide JMO Wellbeing and Support Plan.
Dr Jansen said other specific actions being taken include;
- Increasing the number of doctor in training positions is some areas.
- Developing rostering principles to ensure adherence to Ministry of Health policies including fatigue management.
- Providing education to junior staff on where to seek help or to make complaints about unacceptable behaviours.
- Refurbishments of JMO lounges completed at Shoalhaven District Memorial and underway at Wollongong Hospital.
- JMO wellbeing sessions, forums, and support services and, prior to COVID, social events, including cricket matches.
Dr Jansen said the JMO Wellbeing and Support Plan was published in November 2017 and is focused on 10 practical initiatives.
Since the plan has been published, the two safe hours standards were introduced, new policies and procedures have also been put in place to make it easier for JMOs to claim for their unrostered overtime and the Black Dog Institute has developed a smartphone app to support the mental health and wellbeing of NSW Health junior doctors.
Dr Jansen said NSW Health is continuing to develop further standards, in consultation with junior doctors.
The District is co-ordinating a working party to develop further actions in response to the latest AMA survey results.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.