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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 December 2020) . . Page.. 103 ..

(1) notes:

(a) the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation (ASMOF) states that, ‘hospital management has a duty of care in preventing fatigue related incidents, and a vicarious liability for actions by employees. The hospital also has a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for its staff.’;

(b) ASMOF also states that, ‘the impact upon a doctor’s professional and private life of receiving a complaint must not be underestimated. The enormity of an error, whether fatigue-related or not, can even lead to doctor suicide.’;

(c) the ACT Public Sector Medical Practitioners Enterprise Agreement 2017-2021 (the Enterprise Agreement) at section 19, governs how rostering, shifts and days free from duty are managed to avoid burnout and exhaustion;

(d) the 2020 report prepared for ACT Health, BPT Training Program Review, revealed that:

(i) 79 percent of junior doctors are suffering burnout and 68 percent are experiencing emotional exhaustion; and

(ii) as a result, just 37 percent of junior doctors passed their clinical exams, compared to a national average of 70 percent; and

(e) the prevalence of burnout and exhaustion experienced by junior doctors is unacceptable, and risks being in breach of the Enterprise Agreement; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) adhere to the Enterprise Agreement and reduce burnout and exhaustion by implementing better systems to support and manage junior doctors; and

(b) report to the Assembly each year on the progress of reducing junior doctor burnout and exhaustion.

I rise to present this most important motion discussing the matter of burnout and emotional exhaustion experienced by the doctors in our public hospital system. I have long made the case in this place that the government has a duty of care to those employed by them, regarding both their care and the impact as a model employer to demonstrate fair and reasonable treatment of staff.

I have said many times that whether it is in the field of health, emergency services or our policing, those who put themselves on the front lines to serve our community when we are most in need deserve our utmost care and support. It is so important how they are treated as employees by this government because they tend to be the best, the kindest and the most giving people that this city has.

Unfortunately this Labor-Greens government has a poor history when it comes to adequate staffing to manage burnout and fatigue. Whether it is the firefighters, the police, our ambos or our prison officers, this government’s track record is poor. In our public hospital its track record is atrocious.

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