20 Nov 2015

Doctors aim to shine light on bullying

4:28 pm on 20 November 2015

Medical sector colleagues have formed a group to address bullying, which has been the hot topic at a medical conference in Wellington.

In September, a report by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons told of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment carried out by its own members.

Today was the last day of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) conference in Wellington, and this morning's discussion went straight into the issue of sexual harassment and bullying.

Having an open discussion about workplace bullying was important because it was an issue that needed to be discussed, MidCentral DHB chief medical officer and Chief Medical Officers group head Ken Clark said.

The problem was not just with surgeons as surveys showed many medical officers had also witnessed or experienced bullying, Dr Clark said.

"I think it's just fantastic that this is happening. It's wonderful that we are mature enough now to get this out there.

"Even at this meeting all the follow-up questions were thoughtful. No-one said 'no, no, this isn't an issue', it was completely the opposite."

ASMS president Hein Stander said bullying took many forms and it was important to recognise what was and was not a serious issue.

"Senior medical staff are more and more under pressure," he said.

"Sometimes in the heat of the moment they might say something that they will regret afterwards, and that is different from bullying.

"If obviously that becomes repetitive then that needs to be addressed."

The association has set up a group of colleagues from different parts of the industry to work together to address bullying in the workplace.

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