M E D I C U S
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
MORE THAN 850
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, visithttps://www.amawa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Hospital-Health-Check-2017.pdf
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
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
Dr Chris Wilson
Co-Chair, AMA (WA)