It’s not just lawyers

I was horrified to read the following story in The Age today in regard to conditions for young doctors.

I wonder if there’s a medical equivalent of Legal Eagle or Shop Steward sitting typing an outraged blog about the terrible conditions of trainee doctors? (that is, if they are not too darn exhausted after working 16 hours straight…)

It is impossible to do your job properly if you are so exhausted you can’t think straight. And it’s easy to feel despairing if you’re exhausted too. Sounds like something needs to be done – urgently.



Filed under depression

2 responses to “It’s not just lawyers

  1. Anonymous

    I was chatting with a colleague last week… It’s been 5 years since we were junior residents working in a major teaching hospital. Back then, senior staff members would tell stories about the bad old days – ridiculous hours, fewer doctors/more patients, had to walk hours to get to work w no shoes in the snow etc. The longest regular shifts we had were 14 hours. So it appeared things weren’t too bad. Until it came to night shift… There would be three doctors rostered on to cover the general and specialist medical units (which were divided into three groups). You were kept very busy running around different parts of the hospital looking after your patients. You’d pray that no-one (doctors) called in sick. Medical admin would never call in a locum (too expensive). Instead, the patient load would be divided between the remaining two doctors. On a bad night with lots of sick patients this could be a nightmare for even the most organised/competent. Not good for your physical and mental health. You were not paid more/given time off in lieu/thanked for this. No wonder then that you would think very hard before taking sick leave. I don’t want to sound “woe is me” but you would go to work with a fever, having coughing fits, vomiting, because the alternative would be punishing your colleagues with an increased workload. Again, not good for the physical and mental health.
    5 years later, W was doing a consultant ward round at 8:30am and met the “night” registrar to discuss the patients. It turned out that the “night” registrar had called in sick and this was the “day” registrar who had already worked a full day and was required to stay for another 12 hours (>24 in total).
    Nothing has changed.

  2. Legal Eagle

    That is really, really terrible.

    The problem is, I suppose, that the hospital administration is aiming to save money (rather than save lives). I don’t know what it is about these kind of administrations – they seem to lose sight of why they are really there. The bottom line is not a dollar value, but the fact that they are providing a service to the community.

    I noticed the same trend when I was working for the Court system – we’d get questionnaires from government administration about conditions in our “Business Unit” (ie, the Court). I would reply that we were understaffed and underresourced, and that the fact that we were regarded as a “business unit” rather than a service to the public was a substantial source of the problem. We were not in the business of running a profit, we were there to provide legal judgment (and hopefully justice) to society.

    Courts, schools, hospitals…all things which are necessary for society…but unfortunately, it seems all too easy to skimp on the funding. This is unfair to the community. It also makes things very unpleasant and difficult for the people who work there!

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