Doctor deaths prompt further investigation


By Mardi Chapman

22 Mar 2017

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has asked his department to report back within four weeks with advice on how to make hospitals a safer workplace for junior doctors.

The request follows media coverage of the recent deaths by suicide of a number of basic physician trainees in the state.

However the Minister told the limbic that the issue was a much larger one – with 20 known suicide deaths in doctors across the country and an unknown impact on other health care workers.

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“More work needs to be done to see how many of those doctors were in hospitals or how many were junior doctors. But irrespective of that breakdown, my role is to see if pressures from the health system are impacting adversely on doctors and also other staff including nurses, paramedics and ancillary staff.”

Minister Hazzard said providing resilience training for medical students and junior doctors was worthy, but only part of the solution.

“Hospitals talking to interns and residents is obviously helpful but structures in our hospital system are a legacy of times gone by and may be placing undue demands on both younger and older people.”

He said similar issues were being addressed in the legal profession during his time as Attorney General.

“There was discussion about the type of person who was attracted to the law and their inherent vulnerabilities. I suspect the same issue largely applies to the medical profession.”

A spokesperson for NSW Health said they had met with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and were collaborating on the development of resources to further strengthen the support for both trainees and their supervisors.

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