Sunday Territorian

Doctors under strain


A LETTER sent out by NT Health on Friday afternoon has provoked a furious backlash both inside and out of the overstretc­hed Royal Darwin Hospital.

The Sunday Territoria­n has spoken to the parents of one doctor, who have said they fear for their daughter’s life because of the pressure she is put under while working.

It follows a letter sent out by Royal Darwin and Palmerston Hospitals medical services acting deputy director Dr Colin Feekery, who said the resignatio­n of three junior doctors could “have a serious impact on patient safety”.

A 12-month ban from employment with NT Health will now apply to any doctor who resigns before their contract.

The concerned father, who wanted to only be known as Stephen to protect the identity of his daughter, said the letter had infuriated those working on the frontline.

Stephen said it was little wonder many doctors, some of whom were working 16hour shifts, had chosen to leave their NT jobs early rather than risk their careers.

“These are genuinely charitable and loving individual­s who are just being treated like absolute crap by NT Health,” Stephen said.

“These poor kids, it’s not like it hasn’t happened previously.”

Stephen said he had expressed concern about the work being placed on his daughter. “I fear for her life.”

It’s understood Dr Feekery’s letter has been poorly received by staff at the RDH.

The letter, sent out on Friday afternoon, urged any doctors considerin­g leaving early to contemplat­e the “burden you put on your colleagues who stay the distance and the safety of the patients you leave behind”.

It said three recent departures could have a “serious impact on patient safety”.

NT Health was contacted for comment.

On Friday night, a department­al spokeswoma­n denied the departures had endangered patient safety.

“At no time is patient safety and quality impacted and all efforts are made to ensure staff do fulfil their contractua­l arrangemen­ts,” the spokeswoma­n said.

“We acknowledg­e there are occasions where a staff member may be unable to fulfil their contract.”

Royal Darwin Hospital was in a 24-hour Code Yellow on Wednesday.

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