Why is it that doctors employed at Royal North Shore Hospital are giving press interviews outside the building every day this week of the NSW parliamentary inquiry into the hospital, while not a single nurse employed by RNSH has given an interview? Surely no-one believes that the nurses who work there don’t have opinions and suggestions for improvements, so why aren’t we hearing their voices?
We are hearing the voices of representatives of the nursing union who don’t work at RNSH, but they suffer the disadvantage of being perceived to lack the specific expertise gained from an intimate knowledge of the hospital, while the doctors who express an opinion gain the advantage from being perceived to own intimate knowledge of the hospital.
It’s difficult not to draw the inference that RNSH nurses face institutional disciplinary consequences for expressing a public opinion that do not apply to doctors who do the same. This seems not only unfair, but a perpetuation of a hierarchical and classist organisational worldview that may well be a causative factor in the hospital’s current dysfunctions. It certainly makes it easier for the doctors who are being interviewed to scapegoat nurses themselves for the problem of nursing staff shortages when their nursing coworkers aren’t given the chance to rebut them directly in public.