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Bullying, sexual harassment allegations rock mental health services

TAKING ACTION: Management has vowed to improve workplace culture at Latrobe Regional Hospital’s mental health service centres at Korumburra and Wonthaggi.

ALLEGATIONS of bullying and sexual harassment were made by staff providing mental health care at Korumburra and Wonthaggi.

Latrobe Regional Hospital’s (LRH) board last week revealed the outcome of a review into its mental health services, which found the allegations were made by staff against colleagues at the service’s Korumburra and Wonthaggi sites, based at hospitals in those towns.

Staff reported occupational violence and rated the workplace culture between very poor and poor.

LRH executive director mental health Cayte Hoppner said poor workplace behaviours were reported and “if these behaviours were substantiated, it would have constituted bullying and sexual harassment, so we were pretty disappointed to read it.”

“We are aware of the issues now. Workplace officers have been put in place and have been trained to help deal with complaints,” Ms Hoppner said.

“Staff have been encouraged to come forward and report such behaviours.”

A review by a consultant found the workplace culture at the sites was a failure of senior leadership to properly lead and oversee these locations, “combined with unsatisfactory/inappropriate work practices/behaviours that have been allowed to develop as a consequence of this failure.”

Staff were also concerned about which managers to report to regarding accessing leave, leave coverage, on call and weekend rosters, and grievances/complaints.

An acute community intervention systems manager was also responsible for 30 staff, an arrangement the consultant found was excessive in order to provide the level of support staff required.

LRH’s mental health services provide care to adults and children, as well as alcohol and drug services, a psychiatrist, education and training, and perinatal and prevention services.

The review stated the issues at Korumburra and Wonthaggi warranted immediate attention and in July, a senior manager was appointed to these sites to provide support and oversee systems there.

“That has improved the culture and workplace communication down there,” Ms Hoppner said.

The consultant also found that at LRH at Traralgon, a higher proportion of junior staff often worked with the most acute patients due to roster shortfalls, with limited supervision from senior staff.

“This exacerbated staff concerns regarding their occupational health and safety,” the report found.

Ms Hoppner added the quality of care provided to patients had not been compromised by the staff issues.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=30192

Posted by on Oct 18 2019. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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