'I've never seen it so bad': Calvary Hospital employee speaks out
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'I've never seen it so bad': Calvary Hospital employee speaks out

A Canberra hospital employee said he has experienced a lot during multiple decades working in the health system, but there is one hospital that stands out for all the wrong reasons.

"I've worked in many hospitals around the country, and I've never seen it so bad as Calvary Hospital," he said.

The Calvary Hospital employee said false improper conduct  claims were made up about him after he tried to report bullying.

The Calvary Hospital employee said false improper conduct claims were made up about him after he tried to report bullying.

Photo: Jamila Toderas

After many years of working in the wards of Calvary's public hospital, the employee said the workplace culture had left him injured both physically and mentally, and he was still damaged by the experience.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the hospital employee told The Sunday Canberra Times he both witnessed and was subjected to bullying and mistreatment inside the hospital corridors.

After attempting to blow the whistle on the conduct of staff members in the department, the employee said he was falsely accused of improper workplace conduct.

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He said the false accusations were part of a concerted smear campaign by a group of bullies to remove him from the hospital.

Calvary public hospital.

Calvary public hospital.

Photo: Jamila Toderas

The employee said widespread bullying had been prevalent within Calvary Hospital for several years, with multiple incidents swept under the rug.

"Calvary does destroy people, and they will do anything to gag you," he said.

'Where you're going is a bad place'

Before he had even stepped foot inside Calvary Hospital, the employee said he had already heard warning signs.

After being offered a position at the hospital, the employee said he received a phone call warning him of some of the conduct inside the ward.

The employee said hospital staff are targeted after they report bullying.

The employee said hospital staff are targeted after they report bullying.

Photo: Jamila Toderas

"They said to me 'we're offering you the job, but where you're going is a very bad place, and surgery is really bad'," the employee said.

"They said they wouldn't mind if I turned the position down. But I've always been up for a challenge, and I was always able to come out with success."

He said for the first few months in the role there were no discernable issues with the conduct of many in the ward.

However, the employee said it wasn't long before he found a widespread culture of bullying happening in the department and that victims were afraid of speaking out.

"There were lots of hassles with bullying and also harassment on the ward," the employee said.

"I attempted to sort out the bullying, but the staff were scared that anything they said would get back to them. [If you made a complaint] nothing was confidential. 

"There were quite a few staff there who were bullies and I tried taking them on, but it didn't take long to realise the organisation didn't want any change," he said.

"They didn't like [the ward I was on] being different."

The employee said bullies would often target staff they want to get rid of.

The employee said bullies would often target staff they want to get rid of.

Photo: Jamila Toderas

Shortly after raising concerns about bullying and harassment in the ward, allegations of improper conduct were raised against him by some of the bullies.

While an internal investigation into the allegations were supposed to remain confidential, the employee said he only heard about the allegations from other employees, before he had formal meetings with management.

The investigation into the allegations took several months, with the internal inquiry eventually concluding that no misconduct had taken place.

Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, the employee said the ordeal left him shaken.

"In my industry, no matter how you fight those [improper conduct] allegations, you're always going to have that slur on you," he said.

During his time at Calvary Hospital, the employee said much of the bullying came from people in management positions, often deliberately targeting certain hospital workers in a bid to remove them.

"Calvary would often put the known bullies into [high-ranking] positions," the employee said.

"[The bullies] like to keep their targets isolated."

The employee said his time at Calvary has left him with both physical and emotional scars.

"Ever since I started at Calvary, things have been going down hill. I've had to start seeing a psychologist," he said.

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"There's no way that I can go back. I've been damaged by all of this."

Do you know more? Email: andrewbrown@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Andrew Brown is a journalist at the Sunday Canberra Times. Andrew has worked at the Canberra Times since 2016.

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