The New Zealand Private Surgical Hospitals Association (NZPSHA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) to build respect and improve patient safety in surgery.

The MoU, a collaboration formed under the RACS 2015 Action Plan: Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety, is the third to be signed in New Zealand, following an agreement with the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board signed earlier today.

Under the Agreement, RACS and the NZPSHA have committed to working together to ensure 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 (IMGs), free from discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment (DBSH).

The work also aims to ensure that the healthcare workplace is an environment free of DBSH.

RACS Vice-President Professor Spencer Beasley said that bullying had been a real problem for the surgical profession, as it had been across the health sector, but now was the time to build a culture of respect and improve patient safety.

"Hospital wards, operating theatres and outpatient clinics are areas where surgical education and health service employment overlaps.

"Both RACS and the NZPSHA strongly support the rights of all healthcare professionals to a safe training and work environment where they can realise their full potential, free from DBSH.

"We know that if we can improve the culture of medicine, and surgery in particular, we can expect better patient outcomes. This is a powerful reason why we wish to work together with this initiative," Prof Beasley said.

NZPSHA Executive Member Dr Lloyd McCann stated that he was pleased that the NZPSHA and RACS had formalised their shared commitment to providing high quality training, education and experience in the practice of surgery.

"This partnership is about ensuring patient safety by improving work environments, underpinned by our shared values of integrity and respect," he said.

"The NZPSHA represents a number of surgical providers in the private surgical component of the health sector in New Zealand and has a common interest with RACS in dealing with these issues and we will collaborate with RACS in addressing them," Dr McCann said.

Specific initiatives include:

  • collaborate on the development of programs and processes to deal with discrimination, bullying, and sexual harassment
  • Sharing information and resources around the education and training available with the respective institutions
  • Ensuring that surgeons and vocationally registered IMGs are able to undertake required training and education in relation to DBSH
  • Exploring a process for the sharing of relevant information.

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.