Hospital earns a 'pass mark' for employment conditions

QUEENSLAND'S peak medical body has handed Ipswich Hospital a C+ grade on its annual report card, which compares employment conditions at public hospitals across the state.

The data, taken from the Australian Medical Association Queensland's 2019 Resident Hospital Health Check, reveals 44 per cent of junior doctors are concerned about making a clinical error due to fatigue caused by hours worked, which was an 11 per cent jump on the year prior.

But more junior doctors in Ipswich Hospital are reporting incidents of bullying or harassment.

A total of 882 doctors in training across 19 hospital and health services responded to the survey.

The report showed 10 per cent of junior doctors at Ipswich Hospital had been bullied or harassed (down from 33 per cent in 2018), 5 per cent had witnessed bullying (down from 43 per cent last year) but 43 per cent had seen and experienced workplace bullying (up from 20 per cent in 2018).

Reporting of bullying or harassment had risen from 5 per cent last year to 31 per cent in 2019.

More than 60 per cent felt concerned that there might be negative consequences for reporting.

The same amount of junior doctors (17 per cent) working more than 90 hours of overtime per fortnight said they advised not to claim overtime.

AMAQ council of doctors in training chair Dr Hash Abdeen said the assessment left "plenty of room for improvement".

"It is very troubling that only 31 per cent of bullying incidents are being reported at Ipswich Hospital and a quarter of those surveyed felt their safety had been compromised at work," he said.

"Ipswich Hospital should be alarmed that only 17 per cent of junior doctors thought their teaching and training was very good or excellent, that's halved since last year.

"Doctors need to work in safe, healthy hospitals so they can provide the best possible patient care and thrive in their careers.

"New doctors in particular are more likely to burnout, get depressed or suffer anxiety, so it's important to provide practical support and advice in those early years."

West Moreton Health medical services director Dr Eleri Carrahar said any reports on bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment are taken seriously, investigated and action is taken when necessary.

"This year's report saw Ipswich Hospital improve to a C+ grade, compared to last year's C grade," she said.

"Our improvement reflects our determination to care better for staff and a greater focus on career progression and development, and zero-tolerance for bullying and harassment.

"In the area of career progression and development, our grade improved from a D+ to a C, which ranks Ipswich Hospital alongside tertiary facilities like the Gold Coast University Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital and Prince Charles Hospital.

"Ipswich Hospital has also improved in the bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment category - moving from D+ to C+.

"Almost 80 per cent of West Moreton Health's 2018 medical interns elected to continue working at Ipswich Hospital in 2019, which indicates they believe Ipswich Hospital is a great place to start their medical careers."

West Moreton Health staff also have access to a free, confidential 24/7 employee assistance program.

"We are continuing to invest in a range of measures to help improve workplace culture for our medical professionals including a campaign to raise awareness of what constitutes bullying and harassment, an informal junior doctor mentor/buddy system, as well as a junior doctor advisory committee," Dr Carrahar said.

"All staff are actively encouraged to report concerns about safety, bullying or harassment and assured they will suffer no negative repercussions."

The score card is designed to promote positive change in the health system is calling on the State Government to expand the Wellbeing at Work program to support early career doctors.