The 2021 Position Statement contains a new introduction, a new section on lactation facilities and revised sections on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) and childcare facilities.
The response to COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of well-designed, installed and maintained HVAC systems to managing outbreaks of air-borne diseases.
Providing access to lactation facilities and childcare is essential to enabling parents to return to work and is a tangible action to promote gender equity in the workplace.
The position statement specifies appropriate workplace facilities and amenities such as clean, well-maintained showers, bathrooms and change rooms and separate areas for doctors to undertake administrative work on hospital wards with work spaces equipped with reliable Wi-Fi/internet and access to electronic records, test results and other clinical data.
The statement says providing safe, high-quality patient care remains the highest priority for the medical profession and adequate workplace facilities and accommodation are essential to support this priority, enabling doctors to provide 24-hour patient care.
Dr Hash Abdeen, Chair of the AMA’s Council of Doctors in Training, said the AMA understands there are limitations to hospital facilities, but innovative solutions should be considered in these circumstances and plans for greenfield sites or new facilities should incorporate the AMA recommendations on facilities and accommodation.
“If we expect our doctors to work long hours and overnight and to be there when we need them, we need to take care of their own health. Fatigue management is a big issue and having suitable spaces for rest and recovery are particularly important to prevent fatigue and ensure the high standards of patient care and safety are maintained.
“The standards outlined in our new position statement are not unreasonable and help create an environment conducive to patient safety and quality care.
“Inappropriate workplace accommodation and facilities present a risk to the health, productivity, safety and privacy of doctors, other health care staff, but also risk to patient safety and confidentiality,” Dr Abdeen said.
Doctors in training completing AMA Hospital Health Checks across the country routinely report they are concerned that fatigue caused by long hours may cause clinical error and impacts on their personal safety.
Training requirements for doctors in training involve regular rotation to different hospitals and facilities and it is important that a consistent set of minimum standards is in place across these facilities.
This policy was endorsed by AMA Federal Council on 16 October 2021 and will inform AMA enterprise bargaining negotiations for public hospital doctors in each state and territory moving forward.