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DHBs threaten misconduct investigations to gag doctors

DHBs threaten misconduct investigations to gag doctors

Last night the District Health Boards threatened resident doctors who speak to the media with disciplinary action if they identify the hospital(s) or District Hospital Board they work for. The threat directed at NZRDA’s members was delivered to the Union in a letter from the DHBs lawyers.

The letter stated “…we remind NZRDA and its members that the DHBs have in place clear media policies including that employees are not to make public comments or statements on behalf of that DHB without express prior consent. Identifying themselves as employees of particular DHBs or Hospitals, rather than as speaking on behalf of NZRDA, has the potential to place RMOs in breach of those policies, leaving them liable to disciplinary investigation.”

“We are disappointed the District Health Boards are resorting to legal threats of disciplinary action to gag doctors,” said Dr Deborah Powell, National Secretary of the NZRDA. “especially when the doctors are speaking out on a matter of safety for both themselves and their patients.”

The threat also flies in the face of the Code of Good Faith for the Public Health Sector which specifically recognises “the role of Health Professionals as advocates for patients”.

Rather than deal with the clear and ongoing concerns over unsafe rostering the doctors have for both themselves and the patients they care for, the DHBs are instead resorting to threats to silence them. “Silencing the doctors will not make the issue go away.” Says Dr Powell. “The doctors will continue to stand up for what is right and safe.”



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