The Australian Medical Association Queensland's Resident Hospital Health Check 2017 has been released.
The Australian Medical Association Queensland's Resident Hospital Health Check 2017 has been released. Iain Curry

Hospital doctors so tired they fear making mistakes

BULLYING and harassment have been exposed at Bundaberg Hospital.

A survey of junior doctors shows more than half (51%) experienced and/or witnessed bullying, discrimination or harassment on the job and the perpetrators were senior medicos, including consultants.

The Australian Medical Association Resident Hospital Health Check 2017 says 12% of respondents felt something could be done about the behaviour and half of those surveyed felt they would face negative consequences if they reported it.

None of those surveyed said the reported incidents were addressed.

NewsMail analysis of the data reveals just 13% of Bundaberg Hospital doctors work more than 90 hours a fortnight and more than a third (38%) of respondents feared they would make clinical errors because of fatigue.

It must be noted that the survey sample size was small, with only 20% of the state's 2267 resident medical officers taking part.

The number of Bundaberg Hospital doctors who responded to the survey was not available.


Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service said its normal processes and complaints procedures "have not picked up significant workplace culture concerns".

"Any bullying, discrimination or harassment is unacceptable and if reported it is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly," a spokesman said.

"We would hope any doctors who believe they have been bullied, harassed or discriminated against would report it to our clinical leadership and HR teams.

"Doctors would not be penalised for reporting this behaviour and we would encourage reporting of these issues so our service can thoroughly investigate any complaint. It is not reasonable to expect negative consequences for reporting this behaviour."

AMA Queensland Council of Doctors in Training chair Dr Matthew Cheng said he was stunned at how many of the state's hospitals had an issue with bullying and that overall there had been no improvement on last year's survey.

Across the board, 47% of doctors said they were exposed to toxic behaviour in the workplace, compared to 45% in 2016.

Nearly two-thirds (61%) of respondents feared their careers would be harmed if they reported bad behaviour and that their future training would be impacted.

"It's pretty astounding - it's surprising," Dr Cheng said.

"The medical system is very hierarchical, there is a lot of stress and I guess sometimes people take advantage of that system."

Dr Cheng said young doctors often felt their career progression could stall if they claimed overtime pay.

A Queensland Health spokesman said overtime, fatigue management and bullying and harassment practices were governed by legislation, policy and certified agreements.

"Patient safety and employee well-being, including staff fatigue, are taken seriously by Queensland Health," the spokesman said.