ASMOF calls for better working conditions
The ACT branch of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF), the trade union representing salaried doctors, has highlighted the ongoing struggles of Canberra Health Services. ASMOF appealed for action to be taken to address staff shortages in order to reduce risks to staff wellbeing and patient care.
The call comes following a recent report conducted into the ICU at Canberra Hospital, which found that “staff are fatigued, feel unsupported, undervalued and did not feel they were ‘sufficiently skilled’ to take on duties allocated to them″.
Steve Ross, Executive Officer of the ASMOF ACT Branch, said he wanted the Hospital Executive to take responsibility for its decisions, staffing and workload issues and the exodus of medical staff.
As one example of the issues, the executive allegedly suspended four cardiologists without pay in March 2022; to date, the reviews have not concluded and have been outsourced to another law firm. Other cardiologists have subsequently left the service and it is reported that the suspended cardiologists attempted to raise concerns with the executive as far back as 2018 about the management of the service, said ASMOF in a statement.
Shortages of senior medical staff currently exist across the service, including in paediatrics, obstetrics/gynaecology and mental health, which causes some services to be ceased and critical incidents to occur, Ross said.
“Of particular concern is that staff shortages and the workloads of senior medical staff are affecting the accreditation of pre-vocational training at Canberra Hospital for junior medical staff, who are, as a consequence, more likely to choose employment in another jurisdiction, compounding the problems.”
Ross expressed concern that there was an immediate threat of psychosocial injury to medical staff, with members increasingly reporting feeling extremely stressed, seeking medical assistance or accessing personal leave. He also said it appeared that “ASMOF members who raise these issues appear to then find themselves the subject of complaint”.
“It is critical for action to be taken to amend these problems and address the systemic issues within Canberra Hospital,” he said.
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