The changes were developed collaboratively between the AMA (WA), North Metropolitan Health Service (NHMS), Charlies RMO Society, and junior and senior doctors in response to AMA (WA) advocacy and following the release of the AMA (WA)’s Hospital Health Check results. The survey of more than 700 junior doctors working in the State’s hospitals highlighted an urgent need to make workplace changes to minimise burnout and boost morale and culture.
Initiatives being implemented by NMHS include the creation of 35 new dedicated part-time positions; a new streamlined overtime approval procedure trial to commence in January on the Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group (SCGOPHCG) site, with overtime claims approved by the office of the Area Director of Clinical Services instead of individual departments; a commitment to ensuring junior doctors can access their leave entitlements in full; and timelier responses to leave requests.
Further enhancements being made include the introduction of a Medical Workforce on-call in the after-hours period to better support operational needs related to staff absences, and a new below-the-line behaviour reporting pathway on the SCGOPHCG site, including peer-supports, that will be implemented with the guidance of the Charlies RMO Society and DiTs.
AMA (WA) President Dr Mark Duncan-Smith said workplace conditions for DiTs had been deteriorating in recent years.
“This year’s Hospital Health Check survey results showed working conditions in our State’s hospitals had worsened or had no improvement across all five areas: morale and culture; teaching and training; rosters, overtime and payslips; wellbeing; and leave. This was consistent for all seven hospitals reported.
“The AMA (WA) welcomes the steps being taken to address these issues. In particular, we welcome the changes to the overtime approval procedure, as the AMA (WA) is aware of Heads of Departments being pressured to limit overtime payments. We hope that not only does this ensure all overtime is paid, but the process of claiming overtime is simplified.
“We also acknowledge the work of Dr George Eskander as the new NMHS Area Director Clinical Services, in listening to the needs of junior doctors and working constructively with the AMA (WA) to improve the health system not only for doctors, but also for the patients they care for. We look forward to continuing to work with WA Health to see more improvements implemented, to help retain a highly skilled and motivated medical workforce – rather than having overworked doctors leave the WA health system.”
Workplace rights of public hospital doctors are protected under the WA Health System – Medical Practitioners – AMA Industrial Agreement 2022. This includes being able to request to work on a part-time basis at any time, with requests not unreasonably refused; unrostered overtime will be authorised, with claims not unreasonably refused; and applications for leave can be made at any time, with the employer obliged to respond within two weeks and advise when the leave can be taken if unable to accommodate the requested dates.