Win for Mental Health Registrars, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital


The NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) this week made recommendations to Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital (‘HKH’), Mental Health Drug & Alcohol, to recruit an additional Locum Registrar to address the chronic workforce shortage of Mental Health Registrars at HKH. This position will be in addition to another a Locum Registrar position that ASMOF and its members successfully negotiated with HKH in recent weeks.

This matter was brought before the IRC by way of urgent application due to the excessive increase in the workloads of Mental Health Registrars, whom of which were already suffering from burn out caused by the chronic workforce shortage at HKH. ASMOF has been informed that this excessive increase in workload is due to the implementation of the Care Level 2 Observations mandated under the NSW Health Policy Directive Engagement and Observations in Mental Health Inpatient Units (PD2017_025) (‘Directive’).

The current workloads of Mental Health Registrars highlight a failure of HKH to comply with its “primary duty of care” obligations under section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) and its obligations under clauses 4.3.3 and 4.3.14 of the NSW Health Code of Conduct. These obligations relevantly require HKH to ensure that “staff are in a fit and proper condition to carry out their duties”.

The IRC also recommended that the Hospital undertake an external review of the workforce shortage at HKH, Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol, which is greatly welcomed by ASMOF.

ASMOF has written to the Secretary of Health, seeking the urgent intervention of the Ministry to immediately cease and desist with the application of the Care Level 2 Observations of the Directive, and to arrange immediate recruitment of locum and permanent Registrars to assist the current Registrar cohort to safely carry out their duties. Our request has not yet been answered by the Ministry and so ASMOF is seeking to meet with the Ministry to resolve these issues.

ASMOF thanks all the HKH Mental Health Registrars who attended the IRC this week - their appearance at the IRC demonstrated a united voice and was highly influential.

We would also like to give particular thanks to Dr Sandy Jusuf and Dr Katia Zuburan who have been instrumental in protecting the wellbeing of HKH Mental Health Registrars affected by these issues, and in doing so the care of patients at HKH.

ASMOF would like to encourage Mental Health Registrars to contact Catherine Ryan on 9212 6900 or to discuss your experience with the Care Level 2 Observations of the Directive, and any other workforce issues that you may be experiencing.