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Doctor-on-doctor bullying is one of the unspoken secrets of Irish medicine, Dr Duddy noted.
Over a third (35 per cent) of trainees surveyed by the Medical Council in 2015 reported they had been bullied at work, with 50 per cent saying they had been bullied by another doctor. Worryingly, 40 per cent of those who reported it to an authority saw nothing happen.
In a very honest speech, Dr Duddy revealed he had experienced bullying in the earlier part of his career.
“I know what it’s like to be ridiculed in front of colleagues at a multidisciplinary meeting; I know what it’s like to have my performance in the operating theatre consistently undermined every day; I know what it’s like to have my clinical examination questioned repeatedly in front of the patient every time. I know, because it happened to me.”
Powerful words and in a room filled with senior doctors not an easy admission to make, but a very necessary one, because as Dr Duddy added: “I’m sure there are other doctors in this room who this happened to. And they’ve kept quiet about it. Just like I did. Didn’t want to cause trouble. Just got on with it. Because that’s what doctors do — just get on with it. See the next patient. Perform the next operation. So it goes.”
As we all know, ‘getting on with it’ allows things to stay the same and in this case, perpetuates the culture of bullying in Irish medicine. “And that’s a culture, we, as a profession, have to change. It has to change because it’s bad for doctors and bad for patients.”
Times have changed and society no longer sees humiliation, undermining or aggressive behaviour in the workplace as acceptable, so why is this culture of bullying in medicine being allowed to continue, with seemingly little appetite from the Medical Council and employers to tackle it head on and stamp it out?
As Dr Duddy puts it: “Culture change has to start somewhere, so why not here and why not now? Bullying and undermining behaviour has to become culturally unacceptable in Irish medicine. Let’s work together to make bullying a thing of the past.”