“Overworked Senior Hospital Doctors Widespread: Guaranteed Recipe For Medical Errors”
“Overworked senior hospital doctors is widespread and a guaranteed recipe for medical errors some of which harm
patients,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today. Mr Powell
was commenting on the statement by the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal that Wairarapa obstetrics and
gynaecology specialist Dr Jeff Harrild was subjected to heavy workload and a poorly resourced maternity unit.
“Dr Harrild’s situation is typical throughout New Zealand especially in the smaller provincial hospitals. Many senior
doctors are working in intolerable conditions through a combination of inadequate levels of support staffing, including
junior doctors and nurses, poor resources and long working hours. The public quite rightly expects A+ quality standards
of care while those providing it are forced to work in exhausting D- working conditions.”
“Exhausted doctors means exhausting the ability to provide safe care for patients. His professional colleagues regard Dr
Harrild as a highly dedicated and skilled specialist. The fact that such a committed and able person can make errors
because of this pressure highlights the seriousness of the stress senior doctors are placed under.”
“The sooner governments, health policy makers and health managers wake up to this harsh reality of the effects of
exhaustion and stress, the better for all concerned. Unlike doctors none of them are exposed to the strict disciplinary
processes and public exposure that senior doctors are,” concluded Mr Powell.