Momentum is building to change culture

Momentum for change: Professor Michael Hensley.THERE is no tolerance for “education by humiliation” within the Hunter health district,John Hunter Hospital’s director of medical services,Dr Michael Hensley, says.

“The activities during 2017– the AMA Hospital Health Checksurvey, the College of Surgeon’s work, and our own survey by a junior doctor in Hunter New England Health–have all provided a strong body of evidence that we need to change a number of thingswe do,” he said.

“The benefit of all the information we have is that we now have a momentum from the health service, and this hospital, to reduce bullying and harassment, and hopefully remove it completely.”

Read more: Doctors scared to speak up Dr Hensley said medicine was a challenging career, where each doctor was aware they were accountable for a patient’s outcome, as well as their own learning.

“We have to provide an environment where they can achieve that,” he said.

At times, people went into medicine without a full realisation of what it involved.

Read more: Stuck in a cycle of abuse But there had been a “generational tradition” of education by humiliation in the past, and there was no place for it now. The growing numberof junior doctors made it more difficult to get into sub-specialities of medicine than it was 10-to-20 years ago, which had increased the pressure on them.

“I think we are seeing a cultural change with doctors,” he said. “Support is important, and it is available.”

They were trying to improveclinical handovers and rostering to address overtime, andlooking into a teaching program for staff.

Read more: Tired training system taking its toll Dr Hensley said the level of bullying and harassment expressed in the surveys was in excess of reported incidents.

“Hence the concern we are not hearing about them all,” he said. “But the momentum we have now isreally encouraging. I thinkwe will all be different organisations in 12-to-24 months.”

“The one thing I took heart from in the AMA’s Health Check surveywas thatdespite the concerns raised, a majority of the respondents inHunter New England Health said theywould recommend the program to their colleagues,” Dr Hensley said.

“So we are doing a lot of things right in terms of their career development.”

Dr Hensley said explaining people’s bullying behaviour on their personal circumstances, such as stress, was “very human,” but unacceptable.

It needed to be addressed.

“If it’s the first time and the only time, that’s fine. But what I occasionally see is that there is a repetition, and it isn’t just under stress, it’s somebody who needs some assistance with their behaviour, with their level of respect to others.”

NSWHealthSecretaryElizabethKoffsaid a$3millionJMO Wellbeing&SupportPlanwould be implementedthroughout thenext18months.

A keyaspect of the plan waslooking at better rostering systems to reduce fatigue.

“WehavemetJMOcallsforrosteredshiftperiodstotallingnomorethan14consecutivehours(inclusiveofmealbreaksand handover)similartootherstates,” she said.

“Inaddition,rostersmustbearrangedsothereisabreakofatleast10hoursfromwhenajuniordoctorfinisheswork,towhenthey startarosteredshiftagain.”

Theplan wasbasedonfeedbackfromtheJMOWellbeingandSupportForumconvenedby NSW Health Minister BradHazzardandMinisterforMentalHealthTanyaDaviesinJune.

– Anita Beaumont

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