Hospital hearing on hold

By Lindy Laird

Whangarei Hospital. PHOTO / FILE
Whangarei Hospital. PHOTO / FILE

An Employment Relations Authority hearing into a complaint by a former Whangarei Hospital junior doctor who claims she was bullied before being fired has been adjourned.

Lynda Emmerson made her complaint to the authority (ERA) after Northland District Health Board fired her for prescribing controlled drugs to someone she was in relationship with and who was not a patient.

A review by the Medical Council NZ cleared her to practice after five months, but by then she had no job.

In her case evidence released to the media, Ms Emmerson said that when she started at Whangarei Hospital in 2012 she was alarmed about some practices taking place she considered unsafe for patients. She alleged they included poor monitoring, documentation, management of medical test results and more.

She claimed she had been "belittled and humiliated" since raising her concerns.

Ms Emmerson was fired in 2015 for writing prescriptions for a controlled drug but a DHB spokesman refuted Ms Emmerson's version of events.

Kim Tito, general manager of Maori Health and Mental Health and Addiction Services, said that in prescribing controlled drugs to someone who was not a patient for over a year, the doctor had "failed to meet her professional responsibility to understand the guidance provided both in Cole's Good Medical Practice and in the Medical Council Standards".

Ms Emmerson misappropriated hospital property when she knew, or ought to have known, the use of hospital scripts was not for administering drugs to non-patients who were relations, he said.

"Dr Emmerson [has] breached the actual and implied terms of her employment which require her to conduct herself in the best interests of the Northland DHB."

In response to allegations of bullying, Mr Tito said that when a relationship between a registrar and senior clinician was not good there were avenues to resolve the situation.
The hearing over Ms Emmerson's complaint of unjustified dismissal started on January 26 and was expected to take up to seven days.

It was adjourned on the fourth day so the parties could resume mediation.

A date for mediation has not yet been set.

- Northern Advocate

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