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Medical students commend College for strong stand against bullying

05 Nov 2018

Media release

31 October 2018


Medical students commend College for strong stand against bullying

Australian medical students have commended the College of Intensive Care Medicine for tough action against bullying and harassment, in the wake of Westmead Hospital’s loss of training accreditation.

AMSA President, Alex Farrell, said today that the revelations about the appalling treatment of trainees at Westmead were disturbing, but not totally surprising.

“The cultural issue of bullying and harassment in medicine is no secret,” Ms Farrell said.

“The Westmead events are a stark reminder that bullying is still happening all around the country.

The good news is that there has been a significant and welcome shift in how these incidents are being dealt with.

“To strip the Westmead Intensive Care Unit of accreditation sends a powerful message that this kind of behaviour will no longer be tolerated.

“If you want the right to teach, then your culture matters. 

“The bullying and harassment of doctors starts in medical school. A study published earlier this year revealed that over a third of all Australian medical students reported experiencing mistreatment during their medical education.

“The bullying is carried out by consultants nearly 50 per cent of the time – and this was reflected by the allegations against senior medical staff in the Westmead ICU.

“A major factor behind why change is so slow is the difficulty for students and junior doctors to report bullying and harassment, particularly if it comes from the senior staff who are supervising and assessing them.

“Only 40 per cent of medical students say that they would be comfortable reporting bullying and harassment if they experienced it. The personal and professional risks are too high, and too often there are no consequences for the perpetrator.

“It is an important milestone that students can now look to the College of Intensive Care Medicine and see a medical organisation prepared to take bullying seriously. It is a first step towards a medical culture where students and junior doctors can start to speak up when the working environment is unsafe.

“We need more of this leadership from all the medical colleges, hospitals, and universities. We need to see reforming of reporting systems, real consequences, and drawing the line to show that they will not stand by while bullying continues in our hospitals,” Ms Farrell said.


The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is the peak representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students.


Media contact

Victoria Cook

M 0400636731

Published: 05 Nov 2018