AMA demands health bosses act on survey

By Eunice Lau & Emma McQuade

WA’s doctors’ widespread distrust of hospital management and low morale has been revealed by a survey published by the Australian Medical Association on Tuesday.

The results of an extensive survey of senior clinicians carried out over the last two months highlighted a culture that was not only negative, but deteriorating.

AMA WA president Omar Korshid. Photo: Eunice Lau

More than 40 per cent of respondents said the culture at their workplace had deteriorated in the past 12 months.

AMA WA president Omar Khorshid said there were major issues across all hospitals, “from the good ones to the bad ones”.

“They’ve been building over the last year in particular and it’s now time to deal with it,” he said.

Out of 860 respondents half of senior doctors throughout the WA public health system surveyed indicated they considered resigning over the past 12 months.

A lack of engagement with and distrust of management, in particular middle and upper management, were often cited as the reason for considering resignation.

Dr Khorshid said the culture needed to change. The issues stemmed from management’s behaviour towards staff.

Doctors Health Advisory Service WA medical director David Oldham said there needed to be an open communication system between hospital management and doctors.

“There is a culture that doctors are superhuman and should not show any sign of weakness,” he said.

“So there is a tendency for doctors who are feeling stressed not to show their stress because they don’t want to appear weak before their colleagues.”

He said it particularly affected junior doctors in training due to competition for training positions.

“They don’t want to reduce the chances of training positions by showing any weakness and so they will often be forced to hide if they are having problems and not seek appropriate treatment.”

Princess Margaret Hospital had some of the poorest feedback.

Dr Khorshid said the Board of Child and Adolescent Health Services were working hard to address the cultural issues at PMH.

A move to Perth Children’s Hospital was not all it was going to take to improve morale .

“A change of building will be great to look at, it’s a nice place to work but that’s not going to address the culture of a hospital,” he said.

Dr Khorshid said the AMA would work closely with the health minister and health boards to make sure hospitals were fixed, and to get them working in the interests of patients.