Ramsay Health Care and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the purpose of which is to build respect among staff and doctors and improve patient safety in surgery.

RACS President Philip Truskett said Ramsay was the latest in what he hoped would be a strong line of leading health organisations in Australia and New Zealand to commit to dealing more effectively with discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment (DBSH) in the surgical workplace.

"The list of early adopters is growing faster than we had imagined, with Ramsay Health joining Monash Health, St Vincent's Health and Metro South Health in Queensland in committing to the respect campaign and there are many more on the way keen to participate," Mr Truskett said.

Ramsay Health Care has over 2,500 surgeons working across its facilities in Australia and some of its hospitals have a significant role in training the future medical workforce.

"Ramsay is committed to ensuring that all our doctors and, in particular, our Doctor Trainees and Junior Surgeons, work in an environment that is respectful and free from any bullying or harassment," said Danny Sims, CEO Ramsay Australia.

"As the largest private hospital group in Australia, we have a leadership role to play in ensuring that the principles that underlie a positive work environment are free from bullying or harassment. A safe and supportive work environment not only benefits our staff, but also delivers better outcomes for our patients," he said.

Mr Sims said the Company was already progressing the rollout of the Vanderbilt program, a program that promotes professional accountability, through its hospitals.

This MoU commits both organisations to a shared vision that will provide high quality training, education and experience in the practice of surgery. This commitment is underpinned by the shared values of integrity and respect.

Specific initiatives include:

  • aligning or developing policies and processes to the extent possible to deal with DBSH using the 'Vanderbilt Principles' as a foundation (See appendix two in the RACS Action Plan: Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety (PDF 1.05MB));
  • ensuring that complaints about discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment involving Trainees, International Medical Graduates or College Fellows working in Ramsay hospitals are managed fairly and expeditiously and that the outcomes of complaints are shared within an agreed framework
  • ensuring that surgical supervisors have the necessary skills and attributes and are supported to provide training, assessment, feedback and support to Trainees and International Medical Graduates in matters related to DBSH; and sharing information and resources for training programs to address DBSH

Collaborating with employers to build respect in surgery is one of RACS' core commitments in its Action
Plan: Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety.

The Action Plan is the cornerstone of RACS' response to the recommendations of the 2015 Expert Advisory Group into DBSH in the practice of surgery.

In May 2016, RACS launched Let's Operate With Respect - a campaign to help deal effectively with discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in surgery. RACS has also published a dedicated new section of its website, About Respect.