The ACTU has welcomed an Australian Medical Association report highlighting dangerous hospital rosters forced on young doctors.
“The AMA’s report confirms the systematic causes of unsafe working hours in hospitals across Australia and deserves urgent government attention,” ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles said.
“The particular needs of hospital staffing are no excuse for making people work virtually unlimited hours. No-one should have to work these extreme hours.”
The AMA’s Risk Assessment for Junior Doctor Rosters study found that 78% of junior doctors are working hours that involve a significant or high risk of performance impairment.
Working more than 60 hours per week was commonly identified as a key risk factor. Many hospital doctors worked up to 100 hours a week, with one doctor continuously on duty for 63 hours.
“Previous research has shown that performance impairment after 18 hours of sustained wakefulness is equivalent to being too drunk to drive,” Mr Marles said.
“Doctors should not be forced into the position where they cannot perform at their best. The fact that this is occurring where patients’ health is at stake makes the problem doubly urgent.”
The ACTU’s Reasonable Hours Test Case currently before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission seeks to outlaw excessive and dangerous working hours in Federal Awards.