Friday, 15 April 2011

defence doctor: toxic culture

Captain Julian Fidge (pictured) is a defence doctor in the Army Reserve and has faced more than 12 charges of insubordination. This medical officer is also on suspension for exposing that "a toxic culture of denigration of and discrimination against" health professionals in the Australian Defence Force.
"your rank is not a real thing"
"Health support specialists are barely tolerated and often denigrated" by general service officiers and that medicals officers are leaving in droves, with those who stay on "becoming more demoralised and further deskilled". (check bottom for source)

Fidge chilling in East Timor. I didn't know medical officers carry rifles. And he's a smoking doctor. Absolutely no offence. (ABC image)

In Feburary this year, SMH reported that the navy would be investigating allegations of negligence and patient managament ("believed" to include bullying) at the HMAS Albatross medical centre. On this note, Julian Fidge said that most medical officiers in the Regular Army are "junior and inexperienced, often just out of internship".

In November last year, ABC's ADF running short of medics said that the defence force wants to recruit more than 200 medical personnel. Julian Fidge was quoted for saying he and his medics "had significant difficulties" accepting the healthcare provision by civilian contractors, who are not as well trained as seriving medical officers. I think it makes sense that working in a combat enviroment requires different skill sets than those used in the more controlled civilian world.

The past few days have seen reports of a cadet sex scandal, inaction over homophobic haressment, suicides caused by bullying and so on, yes to yesterday's SMH editorial Defence needs a cultural revolution. But as an expert in public sector governance and risk writes in Changing defence culture will take time, changing the culture in an organisation as large as defence needs time and persistence. Each generation of leadership (ministers and top brasses), needs to take the baton and pass it on.
"I am obliged to do by virtue of my profession, to advocate for my patients’ health and well-being, even at personal cost", Julian Fidge
I've always been positively disposed to those who dare to speak out. And Julian seems like an man with intergrity.

You can read Julian Fidge's write up in the MJA's electronic newsletter InSight here. Subscription is needed but it's free. Or just check out this article from The Australian. This is the link of the picture above.

Julian Fidge talks about this in a video embedded here.

1 comment:

  1. Not only a rifle, but also a pistol for use during helicoptor operations. Medical staff responsible for AME carry both on the ground, but leave the rifle in the Air Operations Centre when flying.

    Dr Julian Fidge