Recent reports on bullying of junior doctors in three South Australian hospitals is concerning and must be addressed immediately.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) President, Mr Tony Sparnon, said hospitals must ensure they focus on creating healthy and positive work environments for their employees.

“We are appalled to hear of such reports and we congratulate the Australian Medical Association (AMA) for releasing survey findings on this issue,” said Mr Sparnon.

RACS has been addressing issues on discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the surgical workforce since 2015 when it established the Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety initiative. Since then the program has achieved significant changes to the culture of the health workplace and surgical training.

The Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety initiative focuses on creating awareness and change on issues of discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the surgical workforce, as well as supporting RACS surgical trainees and Fellows in their respective working places.

“Workplace cultures take time to change and require commitment from everyone. We are pleased that the AMA has joined the cause to improve hospital workplace culture and can share with them the considerable experience we have obtained.

“While our remit is confined to issues that affect our surgical trainees in the accredited working places in which they undertake their training, we are also concerned about the overall working culture at the prevocational level including junior doctors. We support the same standards being applied to the prevocational space as in the accredited training space. We call on other colleges, hospitals and other organisations in the health sector to also champion doctors who work in unaccredited registrar positions to have a safe working environment.”