Stakeholders are disappointed the independent review into ACT Health's workplace culture did not spell out hotspots of bullying and harassment and was unable to hold individuals accountable, despite detailed submissions making troubling allegations.
The final report, which was released on Thursday morning, highlighted deep cultural issues within the ACT's public health system, but did not go into specific allegations or talk about clusters of poor culture.
It has also left some groups feeling snubbed, having been left off the report's list of members of an implementation committee to oversee the report's recommendations.
A submission to the review from the Community and Public Sector Union revealed experiences of sexism, racism and bullying, with a survey finding 75 per cent of participants had experienced bullying or harassment while working for ACT Health.
Allegations included that women had been asked whether they would have children and if they were using contraception.
People believed nepotism was rife, faced retribution for speaking out and were threatened with performance management, according to the submission.
The union questioned why tackling bullying and harassment - which it considered the biggest workplace issue in ACT Health - had largely been left out of the report's recommendations.
The Australian Medical Association's ACT president, Antonio Di Dio, said he was disappointed the review was not able to hold individuals to account.
He said their original proposal for a board of inquiry - which is the territory's version of a royal commission - would have allowed that to happen.
Dr Di Dio said he asked the review panel to provide greater transparency around the the clusters of of complaints it received.
But he said the panel would not tell the association the number of individual matters referred, the general nature of the matters or how they would be followed up.
“While the recommendations in the review’s final report are significant because they point the way forward and propose structures, practices and processes designed to bring about cultural change there is a significant missing part – individual accountability for past poor behaviour,” Dr Di Dio said.
But review panel chairman Mick Reid said he did not include specific clusters of complaints in the report so as not to distract from the pervasive nature of cultural issues within the ACT's public health services.
He said the implementation committee would be made aware of the clusters the review identified.
"I am writing to the minister probably on Monday indicating the dozen or so areas where we feel there are issues of particular concern in particular parts of the organisation," he said.
The criticism comes as the union representing senior staff specialists and staff doctors - the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation - was left perplexed as to why it was left off the implementation committee, despite the report highlighting the lack of current engagement with senior doctors.
The committee will first sit in March and will be chaired by Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris. It will also include ACT Health executives as well as representatives from the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.
The doctors' federation's ACT president Dr Richard Singer - also a staff specialist at Canberra Hospital - said he would be lobbying Ms Fitzharris to include a member of the federation on the committee.
"A large thrust of the report was to improve doctor engagement - leaving off the main group representing senior doctors is not going to facilitate engagement," he said.
"[Including a federation representative] would also mean getting a broad presentation of senior doctors' views."
Community and Public Sector Union ACT regional secretary Madeline Northam said ACT public health workers felt confused and let down that the report did not give adequate weight to widespread problems with bullying and harassment.
“The review panel has made some perfectly sensible recommendations, but we find it hard to believe that there’s nothing there to deal with the biggest issue," she said.
“It’s simply not good enough that this review has turned a blind eye to the fact we have members going home in tears every day because of the behaviour of colleagues who are no better than schoolyard bullies.
"The chief executive and director-general have a duty of care to all staff and we’ll be holding them accountable for tackling this serious problem, with or without independent recommendations to guide them.”
The independent review was announced by Ms Fitzharris in September after a string of scandals and mounting pressure for change.
The interim report was released in February and the final report's recommendations remained largely the same.
Ms Fitzharris said the government would release its response to the report within three months.
"The government is committed to working with staff and stakeholders to put the final recommendations into practice in a way that drives the real change we need to see, and share the independent panel’s belief that this will effect positive change to the workplace culture across the ACT public health system," she said.
“While the review into workplace culture has now concluded, it’s time to get on with implementing the recommendations made by the independent panel."
Opposition health spokeswoman Vicki Dunne called on the government to bring forward its response to the next sitting week.
“By putting off a response for three months, the Health Minister is essentially saying bullying and harassment in the workplace is not a pressing issue for her government," she said.