Bullying amongst Senior Doctors in New Zealand



Our colleagues in NZ from the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) have published a recent research paper on bullying and the consequences for the senior medical workforce.

The research into the prevalence and consequences of bullying within New Zealand’s senior medical workforce has been published in the BMJ Open, a journal for medical researchers around the world.

The article was written jointly by Dr Charlotte Chambers, ASMS Principal Analyst (Policy and Research), Professor Christopher MA Frampton from Otago University, Professor Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and incoming ASMS National President Dr Murray Barclay. It can be read online at http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/3/e020158.full?ijkey=KMizlCY1jMUALJu&keytype=ref

It is based on research carried out by Dr Chambers, which ASMS published late last year as a Health Dialogue (https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/ASMS-Health-Dialogue-Bullying-WEB-1.pdf) and summarised in an ASMS media release (https://www.asms.org.nz/news/asms-news/2017/11/24/bullying-senior-doctors-rife-public-health-system-report-finds/)

As the BMJ article states, this research found that bullying is prevalent in New Zealand’s senior medical workforce and is associated with high workloads, and low peer and managerial support. The findings help identify conditions and pressures that may encourage bullying and highlight the significant risk of bullying for individuals and their patients.

Bullying, along with burnout and the issue of hospital specialists working while sick, is a symptom of a public health system struggling to cope and looking for relief. Many hospitals are making positive moves to address these issues but significant, systemic improvements in hospital and workforce resourcing are needed to bring about long-term change.