Fifth of women doctors claim sexual harassment

Workplace bullying common in medical practice, says Irish Medical Organisation

The  IMO maintained that nearly one third of women non-consultant hospital doctors reported being bullied on the basis of their gender. File photograph: iStock

The IMO maintained that nearly one third of women non-consultant hospital doctors reported being bullied on the basis of their gender. File photograph: iStock

 

One in five women non-consultant hospital doctors say they have been sexually harassed in their workplace in the past two years, according to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

The organisation also maintained that nearly one third (27.7 per cent) of women non-consultant hospital doctors, 13.2 per cent of female consultants, 10.4 per cent of GPs and 5 per cent of community health and public health doctors reported being bullied on the basis of their gender in the same two-year period. The report does not specify who the perpetrators were.

The figures were set out in a submission by the IMO earlier this week to the Public Service Pay Commission which is examining areas where recruitment and staff retention is a growing problem.

The IMO argued that pay levels were the main driver in the emigration of young doctors. It said 66.2 per cent of non-consultant hospital doctors perceived pay to be a primary reason for their peers leaving Ireland. It said more than 58 per cent of non-consultant hospital doctors had been approached by an agency or employer seeking to recruit them to a medical post abroad.

However, the IMO also contended that there were numerous cultural issues that acted as a barrier to recruitment and retention which the HSE had often failed to address meaningfully.

It noted that “bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment appear to remain common features of medical practice in Ireland, despite efforts to curtail their impact and prevalence”.

The IMO said research it had conducted last year found 21 per cent of female non-consultant hospital doctors reported being sexually harassed in the workplace in the previous two years.

Recruitment

There were, it said, increasing problems in recruiting consultants to the Irish health system, noting that 60 per cent of advertisements for consultant posts last year attracted two applications or fewer.

“This highlights the deep unattractiveness with which the Irish health service is viewed by those seeking consultant posts.”

The IMO said a survey of consultants indicated that 27 per cent were considering taking up a post abroad in the foreseeable future, with 76.6 per cent of all consultants believing they would earn more if they were to move abroad.

The survey found that 68.5 per cent of respondents considered improved levels of remuneration would prove useful in ensuring their retention, and that of their peers, within the Irish health service.

The IMO also maintained the two-tier pay structure under which doctors recruited after 2012 are paid less than those in place before then was also contributing to difficulties in filling senior medical positions.