Doctor loses job over ‘nasty’ harassment.

A senior doctor who told a medical intern she would get good marks if she slept with him has lost his job.

The head of the country's Rural Medical Immersion Programme has revealed at least three experienced consultants have lost their district health board positions after a workplace crackdown on bullying and sexual harassment.

The Otago University School of Medicine programme director Dr Branko Sijnja said some rural hospitals had also been blacklisted and shifts changed to keep students safe from bullying.

In one of the most "nasty" allegations, a female student was indecently propositioned.

Advertisement

"A student was told, 'If you sleep with me I will give you some good marks'," Sijnja said.

The consultant did not have his health board job contract renewed and his behaviour was investigated by the Medical Council.

Sijnja would not reveal which DHB the man had worked for or when the incident happened.

A Medical Council spokesman confirmed the doctor at the centre of the indecent proposal was the subject of a professional inquiry but would not reveal the outcome for privacy reasons.

The Rural Medical Immersion Programme gives fifth-year medical students clinical experience in small rural hospitals and general practices throughout New Zealand.

Sijnja said other complaints laid by students included being told they would make "useless" doctors and weren't bright enough to pass exams.

One was told she "didn't know anything" and was described to patients as "more hindrance than help".

Sijnja said boards took action against the health professionals in three of the most serious incidents. "They lost their jobs. It has been a good response from the DHBs. They are sensitive to it."

The revelations come on the back of an explosive dossier compiled by the New Zealand Medical Students' Association (NZMSA) in which students lifted the lid on a bullying culture in hospitals.

It included one specialist asking an intern of Asian descent if he ate dog.

NZMSA president Elizabeth Berryman said students had reported a marked improvement in conduct in wards since the Herald on Sunday reported the contents of the dossier in August.

"They are telling me clinicians who are known bullies are re-thinking their actions and changing their behaviours.

"That's the outcome we wanted."

District Health Board chief executive group member Jim Green was not aware of the cases raised by Sijnja, but said the physician's indecent proposition was "absolutely and totally unacceptable on any level".

He said reporting questionable professional behaviour to registering bodies was helpful in identifying job candidates with issues from previous workplaces.

Boards were legally required to report incidents and it was left to the registering body to investigate and keep a record.

Green said a significant initiative to eliminate workplace bullying in the health sector was being spearheaded by a joint working party.

"This group believes it is time to put an end to this behaviour, which has been tolerated within our profession for too long," working party chair and Ministry of Health chief medical officer Dr Don Mackie said.

He said the medical profession was committed to eliminating bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

What do you think? Email: letters@hos.co.nz