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Home secretary announces review into medicinal cannabis use

Thousands of sufferers of drug-resistant conditions have been offered hope after the home secretary launched a review into medicinal uses of cannabis following public pressure from the families of two sick children.

But Sajid Javid ruled out legalising the drug for recreational use following interventions by the former Tory leader William Hague and policing officials.

The review by the Home Office and the chief medical officer, Sally Davies, was announced following high-profile coverage of the cases of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell and six-year-old Alfie Dingley, who both have forms of intractable epilepsy that appear to be eased by the use of cannabis oil.

Following the announcement of the review, Caldwell’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, said: “At every stage we have mentioned making history, and we have mentioned it because common sense and the power of mummies of sick children has bust the political process wide open and is on the verge of changing thousands of lives by bringing our medicinal cannabis laws in line with many other countries.”

Javid’s decision to review medicinal cannabis marks another major intervention by the secretary of state since his appointment at the end of April. Although some announcements had been set in motion before he took office, he has overseen the fallout from the Windrush scandal, which included the suspension of some immigration enforcement measures, the launch of new counter-terrorism legislation and strategy, and he has removed medics from the skilled migrant cap.

Addressing the House of Commons on the issue of medicinal cannabis, Javid said: “It has become clear to me since becoming home secretary that the position that we find ourselves in currently is not satisfactory.

“It’s not satisfactory for the parents, it’s not satisfactory for the doctors, and it’s not satisfactory for me. I have now come to the conclusion that it is time to review the scheduling of cannabis.

“Before I go into any detail of the review, let me be absolutely clear that this step is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

“This government has absolutely no plans to legalise cannabis and the penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged.

“We will not set a dangerous precedent or weaken our ability to keep dangerous drugs off our streets.”

Cannabis is currently a schedule 1 drug, meaning it is currently thought to have no therapeutic value and cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed. It may be used for the purposes of research but a Home Office licence is required.

Cannabis oil use chart

The review will be in two parts. Davies will consider the evidence available for the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis-based medicines. In the next step, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) will provide an assessment based on the balance of harms and public health needs, of what, if anything, should be rescheduled.

The home secretary said if the review identified significant medical and therapeutic benefits, then cannabis could be rescheduled for medicinal use.

Alfie and Billy are among around 20,000 children who do not respond to the medication prescribed by the NHS.

Dingley’s parents said his seizures almost disappeared after he was prescribed an EU-certified cannabis medicine in Holland.

They lived there for six months until the parents, who had spent £30,000 on his treatment, ran out of money.

Hannah Deacon, Alfie’s mother, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: “Before we went to Holland he was in hospital every week having intravenous steroids and other unlicensed medication to stop his severe clusters of hundreds of seizures.

“I didn’t know my child for two years, all I knew was A&E, ambulances, purple seizures, panic, fear. That was my life. The miracle was that [cannabis-based drugs] worked and it changed his life.”

Similarly, Charlotte Caldwell, Billy’s mother, credited cannabis oil as “life-saving” and said its prescription caused Billy to go around 300 days seizure-free.

After they returned to the UK they both launched high-profile campaigns for their children to be able to have access to their anti-epileptic medicine. Their cases also renewed the wider debate over legalisation.

In an article for the Telegraph on Tuesday, William Hague, the former leader of the Conservative party, urged Theresa May to legalise cannabis.

He said that the “battle [against cannabis] is effectively over” and that the UK’s drug policy is “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”.

Advocating a major policy change, Hague said it was delusional to think cannabis could be “driven off the streets”.

Hague claimed that criminal gangs were the chief beneficiaries of the drug remaining illegal and that many police forces had “stopped worrying about it”.

Cannabis deaths chart

It is understood that around half a dozen police forces have de-prioritised the enforcement of cannabis-related crimes.

Accordingly, police chiefs came out in support of Hague’s remarks in respect to the war on drugs.

“Hague is right that the war on drugs is not being won,” said David Jamieson, the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands. “We need a fresh approach and to treat people with addictions as having a medical problem, not just as an enforcement issue.”

“Decisions on the harm of drugs should not be taken by the Home Office, but by medical professionals at the Department of Health,” Jamieson, who served as a government minister between 1997 and 2005, added.

Ron Hogg, the Durham police, crime and victims’ commissioner, echoed his remarks.

“Lord Hague’s statement that the war on drugs has failed echoes the call for reform of the drug laws which I have been making for some time,” he said.

Durham is understood to have adopted the most liberal approach to policing drug offences in the country and is focused on the need to reduce drug-related harm. It is the only force in the country to be rated as outstanding by official inspectors.

“Drug users should be able to seek effective treatment without fear of prosecution, and control of the drugs market should be taken out of the hands of organised crime groups,” Hogg said.

There were 136,352 recorded drug offences in England and Wales in 2016/17. Just under 76% of all drug offences recorded were for the possession of cannabis and this is likely to be a major drain on police budgets.

The government, however, insisted it would not decriminalise cannabis.

“In terms of decriminalising cannabis there are no plans in that respect,” May’s spokesman said. “The evidence is very clear that cannabis can cause serious harm when it is misused.”

The Home Office also issued a strong rebuttal which reiterated that the government “has no intention of reviewing the classification of cannabis” and “it will remain a class B drug”.

Home secretary announces review into medicinal cannabis use

Thousands of sufferers of drug-resistant conditions have been offered hope after the home secretary launched a review into medicinal uses of cannabis following public pressure from the families of two sick children.

But Sajid Javid ruled out legalising the drug for recreational use following interventions by the former Tory leader William Hague and policing officials.

The review by the Home Office and the chief medical officer, Sally Davies, was announced following high-profile coverage of the cases of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell and six-year-old Alfie Dingley, who both have forms of intractable epilepsy that appear to be eased by the use of cannabis oil.

Following the announcement of the review, Caldwell’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, said: “At every stage we have mentioned making history, and we have mentioned it because common sense and the power of mummies of sick children has bust the political process wide open and is on the verge of changing thousands of lives by bringing our medicinal cannabis laws in line with many other countries.”

Javid’s decision to review medicinal cannabis marks another major intervention by the secretary of state since his appointment at the end of April. Although some announcements had been set in motion before he took office, he has overseen the fallout from the Windrush scandal, which included the suspension of some immigration enforcement measures, the launch of new counter-terrorism legislation and strategy, and he has removed medics from the skilled migrant cap.

Addressing the House of Commons on the issue of medicinal cannabis, Javid said: “It has become clear to me since becoming home secretary that the position that we find ourselves in currently is not satisfactory.

“It’s not satisfactory for the parents, it’s not satisfactory for the doctors, and it’s not satisfactory for me. I have now come to the conclusion that it is time to review the scheduling of cannabis.

“Before I go into any detail of the review, let me be absolutely clear that this step is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

“This government has absolutely no plans to legalise cannabis and the penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged.

“We will not set a dangerous precedent or weaken our ability to keep dangerous drugs off our streets.”

Cannabis is currently a schedule 1 drug, meaning it is currently thought to have no therapeutic value and cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed. It may be used for the purposes of research but a Home Office licence is required.

Cannabis oil use chart

The review will be in two parts. Davies will consider the evidence available for the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis-based medicines. In the next step, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) will provide an assessment based on the balance of harms and public health needs, of what, if anything, should be rescheduled.

The home secretary said if the review identified significant medical and therapeutic benefits, then cannabis could be rescheduled for medicinal use.

Alfie and Billy are among around 20,000 children who do not respond to the medication prescribed by the NHS.

Dingley’s parents said his seizures almost disappeared after he was prescribed an EU-certified cannabis medicine in Holland.

They lived there for six months until the parents, who had spent £30,000 on his treatment, ran out of money.

Hannah Deacon, Alfie’s mother, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: “Before we went to Holland he was in hospital every week having intravenous steroids and other unlicensed medication to stop his severe clusters of hundreds of seizures.

“I didn’t know my child for two years, all I knew was A&E, ambulances, purple seizures, panic, fear. That was my life. The miracle was that [cannabis-based drugs] worked and it changed his life.”

Similarly, Charlotte Caldwell, Billy’s mother, credited cannabis oil as “life-saving” and said its prescription caused Billy to go around 300 days seizure-free.

After they returned to the UK they both launched high-profile campaigns for their children to be able to have access to their anti-epileptic medicine. Their cases also renewed the wider debate over legalisation.

In an article for the Telegraph on Tuesday, William Hague, the former leader of the Conservative party, urged Theresa May to legalise cannabis.

He said that the “battle [against cannabis] is effectively over” and that the UK’s drug policy is “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”.

Advocating a major policy change, Hague said it was delusional to think cannabis could be “driven off the streets”.

Hague claimed that criminal gangs were the chief beneficiaries of the drug remaining illegal and that many police forces had “stopped worrying about it”.

Cannabis deaths chart

It is understood that around half a dozen police forces have de-prioritised the enforcement of cannabis-related crimes.

Accordingly, police chiefs came out in support of Hague’s remarks in respect to the war on drugs.

“Hague is right that the war on drugs is not being won,” said David Jamieson, the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands. “We need a fresh approach and to treat people with addictions as having a medical problem, not just as an enforcement issue.”

“Decisions on the harm of drugs should not be taken by the Home Office, but by medical professionals at the Department of Health,” Jamieson, who served as a government minister between 1997 and 2005, added.

Ron Hogg, the Durham police, crime and victims’ commissioner, echoed his remarks.

“Lord Hague’s statement that the war on drugs has failed echoes the call for reform of the drug laws which I have been making for some time,” he said.

Durham is understood to have adopted the most liberal approach to policing drug offences in the country and is focused on the need to reduce drug-related harm. It is the only force in the country to be rated as outstanding by official inspectors.

“Drug users should be able to seek effective treatment without fear of prosecution, and control of the drugs market should be taken out of the hands of organised crime groups,” Hogg said.

There were 136,352 recorded drug offences in England and Wales in 2016/17. Just under 76% of all drug offences recorded were for the possession of cannabis and this is likely to be a major drain on police budgets.

The government, however, insisted it would not decriminalise cannabis.

“In terms of decriminalising cannabis there are no plans in that respect,” May’s spokesman said. “The evidence is very clear that cannabis can cause serious harm when it is misused.”

The Home Office also issued a strong rebuttal which reiterated that the government “has no intention of reviewing the classification of cannabis” and “it will remain a class B drug”.

Epileptic boy’s mother barred from bringing cannabis oil into UK

The mother of a child who has up to 100 epileptic fits a day has had potentially life-saving cannabis oil confiscated from her by customs officers at Heathrow airport after trying to “openly smuggle” the substance into the UK.

Charlotte Caldwell was not cautioned when she was stopped after a flight from Toronto, Canada, and has vowed to obtain more cannabis oil to help her 12-year-old son, Billy, for whom she says it has proved to be an effective treatment.

Last year Billy became the first child to be prescribed medicinal cannabis oil on the NHS. He then reportedly went 250 days without a seizure. However, his GP was later ordered by the Home Office not to renew the prescription or face disbarment.

Caldwell said she feared that the cycle of fits “would eventually kill” Billy. She said she would meet the Home Office minister Nick Hurd on Monday afternoon to plead to get the oil back. She added that Billy was due his next dose at 3.30pm and warned of the dangers of missing his first treatment in 19 months.

Caldwell, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, told reporters that the customs officers were “absolute gentlemen … really, really nice”. One had tears in his eyes as they took the drug from her, she said.

“I’ll just go back to Canada and I’ll get more and I’ll bring it back again,” she said. She described the contraband as “a small bottle of oil that’s keeping my son alive”.

Caldwell told a press conference: “It’s Billy’s anti-epileptic medication that Nick Hurd has taken away. It’s not some sort of joint full of recreational cannabis, it is his anti-epileptic medication that he has taken off me at the airport today.

“I will just go back to Canada and get more and I will bring it back again because my son has a right to have his anti-epileptic medication in his country, in his own home.

Sky News (@SkyNews)

Mother Charlotte Caldwell “absolutely horrified” as customs officers at Heathrow Airport confiscate cannabis oil she uses to treat her son’s epilepsy pic.twitter.com/qWONj5h7jC

June 11, 2018

“We are not going to stop, we are not going to give up, we have love, hope, faith for our kids and we are going to continue.”

MPs and experts condemned the move and said it highlights the deep injustices people face due to what they say is Britain’s outdated drug policy.

“Rather than cracking down on parents who are trying to help alleviate the suffering of their children, we should be legislating according to the evidence and giving people the treatments they need,” said Caroline Lucas MP, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform.

“There’s swathes of evidence to show that cannabis products can help treat epilepsy – and continuing to criminalise people for using it is both deeply cruel and an absurd waste of police resources.”

David Nutt, the former government chief drugs adviser who has advocated for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, said Caldwell had proved cannabis oil effectively cured her child and could save his life.

“Cannabis is a medicine in 20 other countries and was a medicine in the UK until 1971,” he said. “Why not make it a medicine again.We have a politically, not medically, based cannabis policy in the UK and this is why people like Billy Caldwell have to go through this torture.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Office is sympathetic to the difficult and rare situation that Billy and his family are faced with.

“Whilst we recognise that people with debilitating illnesses are looking to alleviate their symptoms, Border Force has a duty to stop banned substances from entering the UK.

“The policing minister will meet Ms Caldwell this afternoon.”

It emerged last year that the UK was the world’s largest producer and exporter of cannabis for medical and scientific use. The vast majority is exported to countries with more liberal laws on medicinal cannabis usage.

The World Health Organisation’s expert committee on drug dependence has committed to reviewing the scheduling of cannabis under the United Nation’s 1961 convention.

Epileptic boy’s mother barred from bringing cannabis oil into UK

The mother of a child who has up to 100 epileptic fits a day has had potentially life-saving cannabis oil confiscated from her by customs officers at Heathrow airport after trying to “openly smuggle” the substance into the UK.

Charlotte Caldwell was not cautioned when she was stopped after a flight from Toronto, Canada, and has vowed to obtain more cannabis oil to help her 12-year-old son, Billy, for whom she says it has proved to be an effective treatment.

Last year Billy became the first child to be prescribed medicinal cannabis oil on the NHS. He then reportedly went 250 days without a seizure. However, his GP was later ordered by the Home Office not to renew the prescription or face disbarment.

Caldwell said she feared that the cycle of fits “would eventually kill” Billy. She said she would meet the Home Office minister Nick Hurd on Monday afternoon to plead to get the oil back. She added that Billy was due his next dose at 3.30pm and warned of the dangers of missing his first treatment in 19 months.

Caldwell, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, told reporters that the customs officers were “absolute gentlemen … really, really nice”. One had tears in his eyes as they took the drug from her, she said.

“I’ll just go back to Canada and I’ll get more and I’ll bring it back again,” she said. She described the contraband as “a small bottle of oil that’s keeping my son alive”.

Caldwell told a press conference: “It’s Billy’s anti-epileptic medication that Nick Hurd has taken away. It’s not some sort of joint full of recreational cannabis, it is his anti-epileptic medication that he has taken off me at the airport today.

“I will just go back to Canada and get more and I will bring it back again because my son has a right to have his anti-epileptic medication in his country, in his own home.

Sky News (@SkyNews)

Mother Charlotte Caldwell “absolutely horrified” as customs officers at Heathrow Airport confiscate cannabis oil she uses to treat her son’s epilepsy pic.twitter.com/qWONj5h7jC

June 11, 2018

“We are not going to stop, we are not going to give up, we have love, hope, faith for our kids and we are going to continue.”

MPs and experts condemned the move and said it highlights the deep injustices people face due to what they say is Britain’s outdated drug policy.

“Rather than cracking down on parents who are trying to help alleviate the suffering of their children, we should be legislating according to the evidence and giving people the treatments they need,” said Caroline Lucas MP, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform.

“There’s swathes of evidence to show that cannabis products can help treat epilepsy – and continuing to criminalise people for using it is both deeply cruel and an absurd waste of police resources.”

David Nutt, the former government chief drugs adviser who has advocated for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, said Caldwell had proved cannabis oil effectively cured her child and could save his life.

“Cannabis is a medicine in 20 other countries and was a medicine in the UK until 1971,” he said. “Why not make it a medicine again.We have a politically, not medically, based cannabis policy in the UK and this is why people like Billy Caldwell have to go through this torture.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Office is sympathetic to the difficult and rare situation that Billy and his family are faced with.

“Whilst we recognise that people with debilitating illnesses are looking to alleviate their symptoms, Border Force has a duty to stop banned substances from entering the UK.

“The policing minister will meet Ms Caldwell this afternoon.”

It emerged last year that the UK was the world’s largest producer and exporter of cannabis for medical and scientific use. The vast majority is exported to countries with more liberal laws on medicinal cannabis usage.

The World Health Organisation’s expert committee on drug dependence has committed to reviewing the scheduling of cannabis under the United Nation’s 1961 convention.

Epileptic boy’s mother barred from bringing cannabis oil into UK

The mother of a child who has up to 100 epileptic fits a day has had cannabis oil confiscated from her by customs officers at Heathrow airport after trying to “openly smuggle” the substance into the UK.

Charlotte Caldwell was not cautioned when she was stopped after a flight from Toronto, Canada, and has vowed to obtain more cannabis oil to help her 12-year-old son, Billy, for whom she says it has proved to be an effective treatment.

Caldwell said she feared that the cycle of fits would eventually kill Billy. She said she would meet the Home Office minister Nick Hurd on Monday afternoon to plead to get the oil back.

She said the customs officers were “absolute gentlemen … really, really nice.” One had tears in his eyes as they took the drug from her, she said.

“I’ll just go back to Canada and I’ll get more and I’ll bring it back again,” she said. She described the contraband as “a small bottle of oil that’s keeping my son alive”.

Last year Billy became the first child to be prescribed medicinal cannabis oil on the NHS. He then reportedly went 250 days without a seizure. However, his GP was later ordered not to renew the prescription.

Caldwell, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, told a press conference: “It’s Billy’s anti-epileptic medication that Nick Hurd has taken away. It’s not some sort of joint full of recreational cannabis, it is his anti-epileptic medication that he has taken off me at the airport today.

“I will just go back to Canada and get more and I will bring it back again because my son has a right to have his anti-epileptic medication in his country, in his own home.

“We are not going to stop, we are not going to give up, we have love, hope, faith for our kids and we are going to continue.”

It emerged last year that the UK was the world’s largest producer and exporter of cannabis for medical and scientific use. The vast majority is exported to countries with more liberal laws on medicinal cannabis usage.

Epileptic boy’s mother barred from bringing cannabis oil into UK

The mother of a child who has up to 100 epileptic fits a day has had cannabis oil confiscated from her by customs officers at Heathrow airport after trying to “openly smuggle” the substance into the UK.

Charlotte Caldwell was not cautioned when she was stopped after a flight from Toronto, Canada, and has vowed to obtain more cannabis oil to help her 12-year-old son, Billy, for whom she says it has proved to be an effective treatment.

Caldwell said she feared that the cycle of fits would eventually kill Billy. She said she would meet the Home Office minister Nick Hurd on Monday afternoon to plead to get the oil back.

She said the customs officers were “absolute gentlemen … really, really nice.” One had tears in his eyes as they took the drug from her, she said.

“I’ll just go back to Canada and I’ll get more and I’ll bring it back again,” she said. She described the contraband as “a small bottle of oil that’s keeping my son alive”.

Last year Billy became the first child to be prescribed medicinal cannabis oil on the NHS. He then reportedly went 250 days without a seizure. However, his GP was later ordered not to renew the prescription.

Caldwell, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, told a press conference: “It’s Billy’s anti-epileptic medication that Nick Hurd has taken away. It’s not some sort of joint full of recreational cannabis, it is his anti-epileptic medication that he has taken off me at the airport today.

“I will just go back to Canada and get more and I will bring it back again because my son has a right to have his anti-epileptic medication in his country, in his own home.

“We are not going to stop, we are not going to give up, we have love, hope, faith for our kids and we are going to continue.”

It emerged last year that the UK was the world’s largest producer and exporter of cannabis for medical and scientific use. The vast majority is exported to countries with more liberal laws on medicinal cannabis usage.

Doctors ‘muzzled’ and bullied into leaving public hospitals, says AMA

Doctors are being “muzzled” when they raise concerns to public hospital management about patient safety and are being bullied to the point of leaving the public system, the head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Gannon, has said.

Gannon blamed the problem in part on “the rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare and the fact [governments] have not invested in public hospitals”.

He said while the federal government had invested a greater share of funding in public hospitals than state and territory governments, all governments had failed to direct that funding where it was most needed.

“Budgets announce record spending on hospitals but no money goes into addressing shortfalls where they exist,” Gannon told Guardian Australia.

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“The culture of managerialism we’ve seen grow over the past 20 years is of concern to everyone. We have seen administration grow from an office to an entire hospital block. There is enormous pressure on everyone in the system including managers but the reality is this puts a lot of pressure on clinicians on the coalface.

“So when doctors raise concerns about patient care, they get muzzled. I am talking about corporate bullying, those who are silencing concerns about the care patients might be receiving, because there is such pressure on budgets and performance targets and getting patients out [of beds].”

A spokesman for the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said states were responsible for the operation and management of hospitals and for employing doctors.

“Although Michael Gannon was calling for more hospital funding in some of his comments … he made the point that it was the states and territories who needed to increase their funding,” the spokesman said.

The Queensland health minister Steven Miles dismissed Gannon’s claims that doctors were leaving public hospitals to work in the private system.

“Given public hospital activity is increasing at a greater rate than private hospital activity, it seems highly unlikely that there is an exodus of public hospital doctors to the private sector,” he said.

But Gannon stood by his comments.

“This is an issue members talk about nationally and it does exist in Queensland health as it exists in other jurisdictions,” he said. “These issues haven’t happened on one minister’s watch, it is a culture that has developed over the past 20 years and partly reflects rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare.”

It comes as the president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, John Batten, wrote in the College’s Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety progress report that addressing bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the health system was a priority.

“We know that cultural change takes time and that we are at the start of a multi-year, long-term investment in improving our workplaces and training environments,” he said.

“We must maintain our support for all our fellows, trainees, international medical graduates and partners in reporting unacceptable behaviour, standing up to unfair treatment and advocating for change.”

Doctors ‘muzzled’ and bullied into leaving public hospitals, says AMA

Doctors are being “muzzled” when they raise concerns to public hospital management about patient safety and are being bullied to the point of leaving the public system, the head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Gannon, has said.

Gannon blamed the problem in part on “the rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare and the fact [governments] have not invested in public hospitals”.

He said while the federal government had invested a greater share of funding in public hospitals than state and territory governments, all governments had failed to direct that funding where it was most needed.

“Budgets announce record spending on hospitals but no money goes into addressing shortfalls where they exist,” Gannon told Guardian Australia.

Sign up to receive the top stories from Guardian Australia every morning

“The culture of managerialism we’ve seen grow over the past 20 years is of concern to everyone. We have seen administration grow from an office to an entire hospital block. There is enormous pressure on everyone in the system including managers but the reality is this puts a lot of pressure on clinicians on the coalface.

“So when doctors raise concerns about patient care, they get muzzled. I am talking about corporate bullying, those who are silencing concerns about the care patients might be receiving, because there is such pressure on budgets and performance targets and getting patients out [of beds].”

A spokesman for the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said states were responsible for the operation and management of hospitals and for employing doctors.

“Although Michael Gannon was calling for more hospital funding in some of his comments … he made the point that it was the states and territories who needed to increase their funding,” the spokesman said.

The Queensland health minister Steven Miles dismissed Gannon’s claims that doctors were leaving public hospitals to work in the private system.

“Given public hospital activity is increasing at a greater rate than private hospital activity, it seems highly unlikely that there is an exodus of public hospital doctors to the private sector,” he said.

But Gannon stood by his comments.

“This is an issue members talk about nationally and it does exist in Queensland health as it exists in other jurisdictions,” he said. “These issues haven’t happened on one minister’s watch, it is a culture that has developed over the past 20 years and partly reflects rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare.”

It comes as the president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, John Batten, wrote in the College’s Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety progress report that addressing bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the health system was a priority.

“We know that cultural change takes time and that we are at the start of a multi-year, long-term investment in improving our workplaces and training environments,” he said.

“We must maintain our support for all our fellows, trainees, international medical graduates and partners in reporting unacceptable behaviour, standing up to unfair treatment and advocating for change.”

Doctors ‘muzzled’ and bullied into leaving public hospitals, says AMA

Doctors are being “muzzled” when they raise concerns to public hospital management about patient safety and are being bullied to the point of leaving the public system, the head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Gannon, has said.

Gannon blamed the problem in part on “the rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare and the fact [governments] have not invested in public hospitals”.

He said while the federal government had invested a greater share of funding in public hospitals than state and territory governments, all governments had failed to direct that funding where it was most needed.

“Budgets announce record spending on hospitals but no money goes into addressing shortfalls where they exist,” Gannon told Guardian Australia.

Sign up to receive the top stories from Guardian Australia every morning

“The culture of managerialism we’ve seen grow over the past 20 years is of concern to everyone. We have seen administration grow from an office to an entire hospital block. There is enormous pressure on everyone in the system including managers but the reality is this puts a lot of pressure on clinicians on the coalface.

“So when doctors raise concerns about patient care, they get muzzled. I am talking about corporate bullying, those who are silencing concerns about the care patients might be receiving, because there is such pressure on budgets and performance targets and getting patients out [of beds].”

A spokesman for the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said states were responsible for the operation and management of hospitals and for employing doctors.

“Although Michael Gannon was calling for more hospital funding in some of his comments … he made the point that it was the states and territories who needed to increase their funding,” the spokesman said.

The Queensland health minister Steven Miles dismissed Gannon’s claims that doctors were leaving public hospitals to work in the private system.

“Given public hospital activity is increasing at a greater rate than private hospital activity, it seems highly unlikely that there is an exodus of public hospital doctors to the private sector,” he said.

But Gannon stood by his comments.

“This is an issue members talk about nationally and it does exist in Queensland health as it exists in other jurisdictions,” he said. “These issues haven’t happened on one minister’s watch, it is a culture that has developed over the past 20 years and partly reflects rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare.”

It comes as the president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, John Batten, wrote in the College’s Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety progress report that addressing bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the health system was a priority.

“We know that cultural change takes time and that we are at the start of a multi-year, long-term investment in improving our workplaces and training environments,” he said.

“We must maintain our support for all our fellows, trainees, international medical graduates and partners in reporting unacceptable behaviour, standing up to unfair treatment and advocating for change.”

Doctors ‘muzzled’ and bullied into leaving public hospitals, says AMA

Doctors are being “muzzled” when they raise concerns to public hospital management about patient safety and are being bullied to the point of leaving the public system, the head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Gannon, has said.

Gannon blamed the problem in part on “the rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare and the fact [governments] have not invested in public hospitals”.

He said while the federal government had invested a greater share of funding in public hospitals than state and territory governments, all governments had failed to direct that funding where it was most needed.

“Budgets announce record spending on hospitals but no money goes into addressing shortfalls where they exist,” Gannon told Guardian Australia.

Sign up to receive the top stories from Guardian Australia every morning

“The culture of managerialism we’ve seen grow over the past 20 years is of concern to everyone. We have seen administration grow from an office to an entire hospital block. There is enormous pressure on everyone in the system including managers but the reality is this puts a lot of pressure on clinicians on the coalface.

“So when doctors raise concerns about patient care, they get muzzled. I am talking about corporate bullying, those who are silencing concerns about the care patients might be receiving, because there is such pressure on budgets and performance targets and getting patients out [of beds].”

A spokesman for the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said states were responsible for the operation and management of hospitals and for employing doctors.

“Although Michael Gannon was calling for more hospital funding in some of his comments … he made the point that it was the states and territories who needed to increase their funding,” the spokesman said.

The Queensland health minister Steven Miles dismissed Gannon’s claims that doctors were leaving public hospitals to work in the private system.

“Given public hospital activity is increasing at a greater rate than private hospital activity, it seems highly unlikely that there is an exodus of public hospital doctors to the private sector,” he said.

But Gannon stood by his comments.

“This is an issue members talk about nationally and it does exist in Queensland health as it exists in other jurisdictions,” he said. “These issues haven’t happened on one minister’s watch, it is a culture that has developed over the past 20 years and partly reflects rise of managerialism and bureaucracy in delivering healthcare.”

It comes as the president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, John Batten, wrote in the College’s Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety progress report that addressing bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the health system was a priority.

“We know that cultural change takes time and that we are at the start of a multi-year, long-term investment in improving our workplaces and training environments,” he said.

“We must maintain our support for all our fellows, trainees, international medical graduates and partners in reporting unacceptable behaviour, standing up to unfair treatment and advocating for change.”