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Nurses describe Ipswich Hospital unit as 'a living hell'

OPEN DOOR: West Moreton Hospital and Health Service interim chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman has invited nurses facing bullying to speak directly to her.
OPEN DOOR: West Moreton Hospital and Health Service interim chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman has invited nurses facing bullying to speak directly to her. David Nielsen

TWO new complaints have been lodged by staff in the Ipswich Hospital mental health unit since the QT's story exposing allegations of extreme bullying and harassment.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service confirmed those fresh complaints related to workplace behaviour and were under investigation.

It comes after a desperate and terrified nurse blew the whistle, saying bullying is rife within the Ipswich Hospital Acute Mental Health.

Her story prompted dozens of health workers to contact the QT expressing similar experiences.

In the past week, increasingly terrified nurses within the Acute Mental Health Unit have told the QT an aggressive "witch hunt" was underway to uncover who had leaked the long-standing issues to the media.

But the service has strongly denied any interest in isolating those people.

Instead, interim chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman has invited staff to speak with her directly, on top of bringing in two executive directors to oversee a cultural change within the unit.

"Our only interest is in people feeling safe enough to come forward with any new concerns so we can deal with them," Dr Freeman said.

West Moreton has implemented a number of processes to deal with the long-standing issues within the unit, which it has acknowledged.

That includes assigning dedicated HR staff to the unit and introducing a new process to better address the systemic and cultural issues, the service says.

In the coming weeks construction works inside the unit to improve safety will be finished.

Those works will make the Ipswich Hospital Acute Mental Health Unit among the safest of its kind in the state where training and development opportunities, including occupational violence prevention techniques, can be offered to staff.

Some of the staff who have contacted the QT described the workplace as a "living hell" where "nurses on the floor are lambs for the slaughter".

Others have expressed the desire, or history of, self-harm and suicidal thoughts arising from the workplace dynamics.

Since September, five formal complaints, in addition to the two new ones, regarding bullying and harassment were lodged with the service.

The QT's front page, Wednesday May 10, 2017.
The QT's front page, Wednesday May 10, 2017.

Topics:  bullying ipswich hospital west moreton hospital and health service


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