BATHURST Health Service general manager Cathy Marshall has conceded the need to improve the hospital’s culture following allegations of workplace bullying from a former director of the intensive care unit.
Professor Brendan Smith left Bathurst Base Hospital 12 months ago to take up a role with Bathurst Private Hospital, but still works in the public system one week a month in Bega.
He was moved to speak out about what he calls a toxic culture at Bathurst Base after reading media reports that the College of Intensive Care Medicine had revoked Westmead Hospital’s ICU training accreditation in response to bullying and harassment allegations made against senior medical staff.
In a strongly worded letter to the Western Advocate, published today, Professor Smith said the issue of bullying extended to the Western NSW Local Health District and Bathurst Base Hospital, in particular.
“Registrars and staff specialists in the Department of Anaesthetics have been repeatedly bullied in the last couple of years,” he said.
“When formal written complaints have been filed through the proper channels protesting the behaviour of managers and directors, the response has been entirely underwhelming.”
When questioned about the claims, new general manager Ms Marshall said there was no place for bullying in any workplace.
She said there had been one complaint in the anaesthetics department, but that had been “investigated and responded to appropriately”.
“I’m new to the general manager role at Bathurst Hospital and I’m assembling a new management team,” Ms Marshall said.
“This gives us the perfect opportunity to ‘re-set’ our culture.
“The reality is we have to work together as a team to create that change, regardless of what has happened in the past.”
Ms Marshall said the hospital executive was working to ensure all staff knew where they could get support and advice if they had a concern, how they could respond to poor behaviour in the workplace, and how they could make a complaint.
Professor Smith is a highly-regarded ICU specialist who was named a NSW finalist in the 2014 Australian of the Year awards for his work in the field.
He is also credited as a world leader in haemodynamics (the science of blood flow) and his former team at Bathurst Base Hospital was the first to use a non-invasive piece of scanning technology to test if a patient was suffering from septic shock in its earliest stages.