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Junior doctors reveal fear of mistakes from exhaustion

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Nearly half of Townsville’s trainee doctors are worried they will make a clinical mistake because they are exhausted from working excessively long hours, according to the latest AMA Queensland public hospital report card.

More than 700 interns, house officers and other junior doctors were surveyed.

AMA Queensland Council of Doctors in Training Industrial Relations lead, Dr Robert Nayer said 46 percent of Townsville respondents reporting concerns about making an error due to fatigue, and eight per cent had not been fully paid for overtime hours worked.

“Disturbingly, 12 per cent of Townsville junior doctors were advised not to claim unrostered overtime by an administrative officer or senior medical officer, and almost a third felt claiming would negatively affect their assessment.

“This year’s survey also revealed a rise in junior doctors feeling unsafe at work, from 22 per cent in 2019 to 27 per cent in 2020, reflecting the impact of COVID in our hospitals.”

Dr Nayer said rates of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment remained too high in Queensland’s public hospitals.

“The overall proportion of junior doctors who personally experienced these behaviours has decreased from 39 per cent in 2019 to 34 per cent this year, however, the rate of staff witnessing bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment of a colleague has stayed the same at just over 40 per cent,” he said.

AMA Queensland has called on the next State Government to commit $1.67 million to fund a Wellness at Work program to ensure all junior doctors receive the resilience training and support they need in their first five years of training.