4 Jul 2015

Hospital loses teaching role over alleged bullying

1:59 pm on 4 July 2015

One of the largest centres for training intensive care specialists, Auckland City Hospital, has applied to get its accreditation back, after it was stripped of its teaching role over bullying and harassment concerns.

Auckland City Hospital

Auckland City Hospital Photo: Wiki Commons

The Resident Doctors' Association secretary Deborah Powell said trainee intensive care specialists at the hospital's department of critical care medicine suffered a "culture of bullying".

She said there had been several allegations of bullying and harassment "over the last couple of years" but none had been willing to lay a formal complaint because they feared the repercussions.

"The reason for that is the more senior doctors sign off on the resident doctors' competency and ability to continue in the training programme," she said.

The College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand withdrew its accreditation in November after a review highlighted concerns about bullying, a lack of supervision of trainees and a lack of leadership.

Auckland District Health Board said the suspension did not affect patient safety standards or the quality of its care, nor the qualification sought by the nine registrars currently training as specialists there.

"Since then, the changes required to address the issues raised by the College have been made. Auckland DHB has asked the College to schedule a visit to review these," it said in a statement.

Dr Powell said she only found out the hospital had been stripped of its accreditation from its members in February. She said trainee doctors had reported that the culture had improved since then and a new clinical director had also since been hired.

Labour's health spokesperson, Annette King, said the loss of the accreditation was a serious set back and was evidence of a poor culture at the very top.

"Over the last year, I've had increasing reports of a nasty and bullying culture within the Ministry, which permeates into the DHBs," she said.

She said attempts to find out why the hospital's accreditation was withdrawn were stymied by the Auckland District Health Board, despite several Official Information Act requests.

"Their (sic) latest response sheds light on why they tried to keep it on the low down," she added.

Dr Powell said health leaders planned to meet later this month to tackle what she called the culture of bullying in the medical profession.

She said trainees may be sent to Australia to finish their training if the hospital did not get reinstated by December.