WA’s workplace health and safety body has confirmed it will launch an investigation today into the Australian Medical Association’s claims of a “crisis” situation at Bunbury hospital.
A recent AMA survey of more than 55 doctors at the health campus found more than 80 percent of hospital staff were worried about poor staff morale, with more than half of them suggesting the issues had worsened over the past year.
The association visited the hospital on Friday and reported the matter to the state’s workplace health and safety body, WorkSafe, on Saturday. The head of the WA branch of the AMA, Andrew Miller, said he spoke to staff about concerns that workplace culture was affecting patient care.
“They don’t feel that the culture is good, they don’t feel like they can safely raise concerns about patient care without their jobs being at risk,” Dr Miller said.
“When the hospital makes arrangements around rostering, around patient loads, around the number of beds that will be opened, how many staff get rostered on for different shifts and the amount of overtime they have to work — staff have concerns around the sustainability and the safety for patients as a result of that.”
Today, WorkSafe confirmed it would investigate claims of inappropriate workplace behaviours at the hospital. The investigation is the latest scandal at the Bunbury Hospital, which has been plagued by allegations of a toxic workplace culture and claims of negligence in its care for maternity patients.
Last year, 35-year-old Melody Taripe died during birth and expectant mother Erica Hay told The West Australian she was given incorrect medication by hospital staff. A coroner found that Ms Taripe died from natural causes.
In a statement the hospital’s director of medical services, Dr Sergey Bibikov, said steps were being taken to improve the situation.
“There is still a long way to go but what’s clear is we’re starting to see strong, collaborative local leadership and an overall improvement in morale,” Dr Bibikov said. “We know the hospital’s executive are working hard to fix things and, while things aren’t perfect, I challenge you to find a hospital that is.”
The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) said it was yet to receive an official notification from WorkSafe about a potential investigation into Bunbury Regional Hospital. WACHS chief executive Jeff Moffet said it was his understanding that a complaint from the AMA – not an employee of Bunbury Regional Hospital – had been received by the Department of Mining, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS).
“It’s important to note that WorkSafe investigates all sorts of workplace matters, from small infringements to major incidents,” Mr Moffet said.
“Across the last 12 months we have been proud to collaborate with our workforce on significant improvements at Bunbury Regional Hospital and have never made a secret of the fact there is more work to be done.
“As an organisation, we take all staff feedback very seriously and plan to work openly and transparently with WorkSafe.”