Everyone, including doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals need a good workplace environment.
Where you practise can have significant effects on the care you can provide to your patients and your own well-being. Excessive workloads, unreasonable expectations, inadequate resources and lack of support can place extraordinary pressures on you.
A workplace with any of these problems makes it much harder for you to give the best care to your patients, can compromise your mental health, lead to burnout and make you dread going to work.
Workplaces with professionals stretched beyond their limits can pose significant risks of conflict, which can lead to communication breakdowns, cultures of blame and issues of bullying.
Doctors’ personal health and well-being can be areas of concern in a well-functioning workplace. Imagine what happens to the doctor suffering health issues when the workplace is dysfunctional.
Adverse patient outcomes in a poor workplace can leave the individual bearing the weight of what happened, even when systemic issues made it hard to prevent. They can also be singled out, however unfairly, for investigative or disciplinary scrutiny.
MIGA is conscious its members and clients can face significant challenges in hospitals, practices and other workplaces across Australia. We see this on a recurring basis in calls for advice, medico-legal matters, in our risk education discussions and other engagement with our members, clients and the broader healthcare profession.
These concerns drive our advocacy for healthy workplaces, covering issues such as bullying, unacceptable workloads, doctors’ health and well-being, and investigative and complaints processes.
We lobby governments and regulators, work with colleges and professional associations, contribute to inquiries, consultations and reviews, and raise awareness through presentations, workshops and other forums.
Over the last couple of months MIGA has contributed to:
- Development of a national framework for doctor and medical student mental health by Everymind
- A South Australian parliamentary inquiry into workplace fatigue and bullying in hospitals and health services.
We have used these opportunities to explain the relationship between healthy doctors, health workplaces and healthy patients.
We have placed emphasis and priority on:
- System change to prevent fatigue and burnout
- Safe and inclusive training and work environments
- Proper processes and support for dealing with bullying
- Assisting doctors manage their health issues.
Ideally a whole of system approach is needed, covering issues such as workplace culture, communication between professionals, shared understandings and perspectives, clinical workloads and staffing, and trusted, fair and meaningful processes for dealing with concerns. But in reality all workplaces have their differences.
MIGA’s work on the importance of healthy workplaces and healthy professionals continues, and we encourage you to be a part of the change you want to see. Think about and constructively discuss how your work environment could change for the better. Starting the conversation is the first step in finding solutions.
We encourage our members and clients with a particular interest in these issues or questions about our advocacy efforts to contact us.