Three quarters of doctors believe that bullying and harassment in medicine in Ireland is a serious issue, according to a new survey.
The Irish Medical Organisation Gender Equality in Medicine Survey reveals that over half (53.6%) of female doctors report having experienced gender-based harassment, compared with 12.4% of male doctors.
The purpose of the survey was to assess the multiple factors that contribute to gender inequalities in medicine in Ireland.
Many of the issues related to bullying, harassment and discrimination.
Dr Ina Kelly, former president of the IMO, says bullying can have a huge impact on people's mental and physical health.
"People get distressed, they get anxious, they get attacks, they get sleep disturbance, and this is when we're already working long hours, physical symptoms and reduced self-esteem", she said.
Last month, Lunchtime Live was inundated with stories from health workers who say they have been bullied in the workplace.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that there can be “no tolerance” for workplace bullying in the HSE and that he takes the allegations “very, very seriously”.
“In terms of internal issues, where there are situations and we have testimony and we have heard from people who potentially are being bullied – that is never acceptable,” he said.
“We take all such allegations and all such testimony very, very seriously."
Minister Donnelly said there are also concerns over healthcare staff “coming under pressure from patients or from the families of patients”.He said this was also “never acceptable” and suggested that extra nursing staff are being put in place in hospitals around the country to meet new ‘safe staffing levels’.
“One of the reasons we are doing that is because it reduces the abuse - and the assaults sometimes - on our healthcare workers, which is never acceptable,” he said.
Parent healthcare workers
Over half of respondents to the survey stated that they had spent over €1000 euro per month on childcare, while a further quarter spent over €1,500.78% of all doctors with children believe the HSE should provide childcare facilities on site.
Almost half of female doctors felt pressure to return to work earlier than they would have liked, compared to a quarter of males.
Dr Rachel McNamara, chair of IMO Women in Medicine Working Group, says a structural and cultural change is needed.
"Particularly as doctors, we spend such a high percentage of our time in work so if there is some bullying or harassment coming from some direction, it is devastating."
She said current reporting structures are "slow and unsatisfactory".
Main image shows a surgeon, doctor and nurse walking in a hospital corridor. Picture by: Hero Images Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo