“It is unconscionable of hospital bosses to try to muzzle resident medical officers to prevent them voicing their concerns over fatigue and related matters,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS).
“These doctors are talking about their experiences of working in New Zealand’s public hospitals and the impact of their rosters and other working conditions. This is a legitimate thing for them to do.”
Mr Powell was responding to the news that district health boards had written to the New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association – the union representing resident medical officers – to remind it that DHB policies prevented resident medical officers from speaking to the media or making public comments in which their DHBs were named without their DHB’s consent.
Resident medical officers are due to strike again for 48 hours from Wednesday 23 November as part of a campaign for safer rostering. The National Secretary of the New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association, Dr Deborah Powell (no relation to Ian Powell), told Radio New Zealand today that DHBs were trying to gag doctors.
Ian Powell says that is unacceptable.
“It’s important for the quality of health care in this country that the public hears from the doctors and other health professionals on the front line, rather than just having a single view of health care foisted on them by health bosses.
“Senior doctors would strenuously resist any attempts to stop them from speaking out on issues they consider important for patient wellbeing and the quality of public health care. If it is good enough for senior doctors to speak out on their high burnout, then it is good enough for the doctors they train to speak out on their fatigue. Health bosses should focus on addressing these issues rather than bullying young doctors from discussing them with the public.
“It’s appalling that public hospital bosses think they can try this on with another group of doctors in the early stages of their medical careers. They need to pull their heads in.”