New projects aim to address poor wellbeing of junior doctors
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New projects aim to address poor wellbeing of junior doctors

The NSW government has attempted to address poor statistics surrounding junior doctors' wellbeing with eight projects to be introduced across the state over three years.

A government survey of junior medical officers conducted in late 2018 revealed only 55 per cent of junior doctors felt their hospital or training site valued their wellbeing.

The Ministry of Health will introduce new projects to try and address consistent issues of junior doctor wellbeing.

The Ministry of Health will introduce new projects to try and address consistent issues of junior doctor wellbeing.Credit:Michel O'Sullivan

Of the 2097 respondents, which represent almost a quarter of the junior medical officer workforce, 46 per cent felt fatigue was not substantially affecting their performance at work and 52 per cent said they had time for a meal break on most days.

Unacceptable conduct was also a common issue, with 54 per cent of respondents having witnessed bullying in the last 12 months and 30 per cent being subjected to bullying themselves.

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A third of junior doctors (31 per cent) surveyed believed action on the survey results would be taken by NSW Health.

The Ministry of Health aimed to counter that expectation on Sunday, with the announcement of a $1 million package for junior doctor wellbeing projects in public hospitals.

"The NSW government is committed to addressing burnout and mental health issues among our hardworking young doctors with local programs that best address their needs," the Ministry of Health's deputy secretary for people, culture and governance, Phil Minns, said.

Projects in the new 'JMO Be Well Program' vary based on the local health district.

The project for St Vincent’s hospital network specifically aims to increase support for Aboriginal junior doctors in their training and encourages them into leadership positions.

An evaluation of workloads in the northern Sydney local health district will aim to identify areas of pressure for junior doctors, looking to solutions such as workforce redistribution.

The project for the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District will focus on "training the trainer", while the Sydney Local Health District will expand the rollout of its existing BPTOK program to all interns and resident medical officers.

Other projects will be introduced across the Nepean Blue Mountains, Murrumbidgee, Hunter New England and Illawarra Shoalhaven local health districts.

The projects are in addition to the wellbeing and support plan that was launched by NSW Health in November 2017 with a planned 12 to 18 month rollout.

Junior doctors have long reported struggling with mental health, overwork, exhaustion and a lack of support.

Various hospital departments in NSW have also had their training accreditation withdrawn by specialist colleges after serious complaints of bullying and harassment.

As of June 2018 there were 7693 full time equivalent junior medical officers working for NSW Health, an increase of 18 per cent over the past five years.

Natassia is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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