Bullying rife in the health system - survey

  • 24/11/2017

A culture of bullying has been revealed in the country's public health system.

A new survey from the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) has found more than a third of senior doctors and dentists are bullied at work, and two-thirds had witnessed others being bullied.

The ASMS is made up of medical and dental specialists employed by New Zealand's 20 district health boards, as well as other leading medical employers such as hospices and the NZ Blood Service.

All members of the ASMS were invited to participate in the survey in June 2016. At the time, the ASMS represented over 90 percent of all senior doctors and dentists within New Zealand's DHBs, and around 77 percent of non-DHB employers.

Of all the members, around 1700 (40 percent) took part in the study.

Survey analyst Dr Charlotte Chambers told Newshub bullying can have a flow-on effect.

"We know that bullying can segue into a whole host of other negative behaviours such as sexual harassment and discrimination."

Dr Chambers says it's not fair on those needing help.

"We have to acknowledge that if people are being bullied at work, the quality of care they are able to provide is going to suffer."

Of those who self-reported being bullied, only 30 percent responded they had formally reported the behaviour experienced. The other 415 people did not report it.

"The main reason for not reporting is they felt they wouldn't be supported," Dr Chambers says.

"The second most common reason was the fact that they were worried if they reported the situation they might make it worse."

The ASMS will present the finding at its annual conference in Wellington on Friday, attended by some of the country's most senior doctors.