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J U N E 2 0 1 7

A M A ( W A ) H O S P I T A L H E A L T H C H E C K


Doctors in Training checked in for the AMA (WA) Hospital Health Check 2017, the third annual evaluation

of WA hospitals on a range of issues affecting juniors. The questions ranged from basic compliance with the new Industrial

Agreement to accreditation and training responsibilities as well as burnout, bullying and harassment.

What follows are views by four members of the AMA (WA) Doctors in Training Committee, analysing certain aspects of the

Hospital Health Check and what these outcomes mean for junior doctors in WA’s health system. The results of the survey can

be found on page 14. For the full report, visit

Five ‘C’s & one ‘F’

The annual AMA (WA) Hospital Health Check has revealed

a few repeat offenders and some shocking scores


he HHC has made official what any DiT on the ward could have

told you. It’s difficult to look after your own welfare working in a WA

hospital. The pressure of workload over personal welfare and even physical

health is concerning. Alarming numbers of people are not taking scheduled

breaks, their half days, or even a much needed sick day.

The results of the Professional Quality of Life Scale has been an eye

opener even to those working closely in this space. Burnout has been

defined as a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, cynicism

and low professional efficacy. Eloquently put, it is the “dislocation

between what people are and what they have to do. It represents an

erosion in values, dignity, spirit, will and … the human soul”.


Contemporary research advises at least a third of doctors are

experiencing burnout, but our results suggest DiTs may be under even

greater pressure. All hospital groups trended towards high-normal to high

burnout scores, in particular our colleagues at FSH and PMH.

Burnout is not a diagnosis in itself, but a risk factor for poor outcomes

including workplace inefficiency, anxiety, depression, drug abuse and

potential patient error.

Are our hospitals hearing the warning signs? And are they willing to work

with us to prevent adverse outcomes?

Our DiTs are feeling eroded, and perhaps it represents the erosion of

their rights and respect within their workplaces. I encourage hospital

executives to reflect and consider action on areas of need identified in

the HHC, as a healthy and happy workforce makes a healthy and happy


References 1. Cole TR, Carlin N; The suffering of physicians. Lancet. 2009 Oct 24


Erosion of our rights

Dr Sarah Newman


AMA (WA) DiT Welfare Sub-committee


ith ever-increasing pressure on the health

budget, DiT overtime is being scrutinised

and targeted as an area for cost cutting.

Most DiTs are now on flat 40-hour rosters that

have minimal connection to the nature and timing

of the work we do. These rosters are designed

around hospital costs rather than patient care,

so it’s little surprise that hospital executives are

seeing their overtime bills rise.

What executives don’t have any vision of is the

volume of unpaid overtime also being worked

by the DiT cohort. As part of the Hospital Health

Check, we asked WA DiTs how many hours of

un-rostered overtime they had no intention of

claiming in the previous fortnight. The result

is unsurprising, with the average DiT working

roughly six hours extra each fortnight, or the

equivalent of almost an entire extra month per

year unpaid.

This isn’t about the money! Each of us is

committed to patient care and will put in the time

to do what is necessary. Hospital bean counters

need to remember that winding the screws

to make claiming legitimate overtime more

difficult does nothing for DiT morale and may

spectacularly backfire in the long run.

It’s not about

the money!

Dr Chris Wilson

Co-Chair, AMA (WA)

DiT Committee