An annual survey has found up to one in two junior doctors at John Hunter Hospital feel they have experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination by other staff members, an area the hospital has made little improvement in since last year.
John Hunter Hospital, Calvary Mater Hospital and Maitland Hospital received all received overall "C" grades in the 2019 Alliance NSW Hospital Health Check, which surveyed 2000 junior doctors working in hospitals across the state.
Meanwhile, Belmont Hospital was one of only two hospitals given an overall A rating, improving on last year's C.
The survey pointed to systemic issues in NSW hospitals, which, on average, received C grades and performed worst in the survey's indicator of staff well-being, covering bullying and intimidation, with an average "D" grade.
John Hunter Hospital, Calvary Mater and Maitland all adhered to this trend.
The John had the highest proportion of junior doctors, 47 per cent, reporting experiences of bullying, harassment and discrimination out of the hospitals in the region. This was the same figure as last year. The percentage of respondents who had witnessed such behaviours had increased.
A positive change was that less doctors said they were worried about the negative consequences of speaking up about inappropriate behaviour.
Of the 32 respondents from Calvary Mater, 31 per cent said they had experienced bullying, discrimination or harassment and 31 per cent said they had witnessed it. This was a vast improvement from results last year that found 61 per cent had experienced bullying, discrimination, and harassment and half had witnessed it happening to a colleague.
Hunter New England Local Health District said the results of Calvary Mater and John Hunter Hospital had improved in almost all areas since last year, including well-being, and were in line with the rest of the state.
"We do however recognise there is still a long way to go and we are continuing our important work in this area through an action plan," a spokesperson said.
"The plan aims to improve well-being, leave management, rosters, education and training. More specifically we have introduced; John Hunter Hospital-campus wide education to assist junior doctors in identifying and managing bullying, a medical App that includes a well-being component, wellness symposiums, simulation training to improve safety for junior doctors and improved processes around rostering."
Dr James Lawler, who is on The Alliance's Doctors in Training Committee, said grades had "slightly improved" across the state this year but still indicated widespread problems in the workplace culture experienced by training doctors - particularly in regards to well-being.
"That Belmont Hospital did achieve an 'A' shows that while it's hard for hospitals to address these issues, they can be addressed," he said.
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