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Supporting professionalism - our 2022 Action Plan
The EAG 2022 report is published with the Action Plan.
The Action Plan builds on all the good work our community has done so far, and continues our three big areas of focus: Cultural Change and Leadership, Surgical Education, and Feedback and Complaints.
It’s all about converting awareness of the impact of unprofessional conduct on patient safety, into action to prevent it. We are redoubling our efforts to foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the communities we serve.
Read the RACS Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety Action Plan 2022 . (PDF 5.17MB)
Read our stakeholder update (PDF 86.23KB)
Listen to the President's message to our community.
Collaborating for change
Our colleagues and partners in agencies across the health sector in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand now share our appetite to foster cultural change that better protects patients, is safe for individuals and enables teams to perform at their best.
The challenges we have set aim to keep pace with community standards and expectations, and effect real change.
Collaborations and partnerships are key to our approach, because no single organisation can build a culture of respect alone. There are limits to RACS’ jurisdiction and scope of influence, and many changes can only be developed and implemented jointly.
Fostering diversity and inclusion
Our Building Respect Action Plan 2022 includes a specific, re-energised focus on actions to support gender diversity and other diversity dimensions and foster inclusion in surgery.
We recognise that working towards gender equity is just the beginning. Keeping surgeons’ knowledge of contemporary professional standards and expected behaviours up to date, and increasing diversity literacy in our community, will support cultural change.
Actions to support diversity and inclusion in surgery are embedded in our 2022 Building Respect Action Plan.
Read about the work of our Women in Surgery team.
Cultural competence and cultural safety
Cultural diversity improves the health workforce by enriching teams’ cognitive diversity. This supports better problem solving, decision making, innovation and bias and blind spot mitigation. It helps everyone reach their full potential.
Our 10th Surgical Competency – Cultural competence and cultural safety – focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. It is a reference point in our ongoing work to support increased action on other diversity dimensions and in Aotearoa New Zealand.
RACS Indigenous health programs and committees, supported by targeted initiatives, recognise and strive to address generations of Indigenous disadvantage in Australia and in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Reconciliation Action Plan (Australia) and Māori Health Action Plan (New Zealand) set out RACS vision to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori patients in Australia and New Zealand. Implementing these plans well relies on effective partnerships with the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa (Māori Medical Practitioners Association), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education.
Read more about Indigenous Health at RACS.
Information Sharing Protocol
This protocol will be implemented as part of RACS’ updated Hospital Training Post Accreditation Guidelines, to be piloted in 2023 and progressively rolled out in future years.
The protocol guides information sharing between a hospital and RACS (and vice versa), when concerns have been raised about breaches of the RACS’ Code of Conduct, including discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment.
It sets out structured information sharing thresholds and details what information about surgeons’ professional conduct will be shared between a hospital and RACS, and when it will be shared.
The protocol is consistent with RACS’ privacy policies and the principles of procedural fairness.
For further information, these answers to frequently asked questions (PDF 54.09KB) may be helpful.
Improving surgical education is a cornerstone of our commitment to building a culture of respect in surgery and is consistent with our vision to lead surgical performance, professionalism and improve patient care.
The first wave of ourBuilding Respect Improving Patient Safety education program focused on increasing awareness and knowledge of discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment through a mandated e-learning module. This training is now a pre-requisite for application to surgical training.
More recent work has focused on surgical educators, senior surgeons and RACS committee members, by expanding their teaching skills (including their ability to give constructive feedback) and equipping them with strategies and skills to respond to unacceptable behaviour.Read more about our courses and training.
Feedback and complaints
Complaints management, and working with employers, are areas of ongoing focus for the College. Effective complaints management is a shared endeavour between RACS, individual surgeons, Trainees, employers, and in the most serious cases, regulators. Each of us has a role to play.
One of the big challenges is to get the best possible interface between complaints processes employers have in place and RACS internal systems. An important goal in this work is to agree how to best work together to understand problems and deal with them effectively.
Our success in complaints management long term will be measured by the surgeons who improve their practice, increase their professional skills and help foster a culture of respect in surgery.
Policies and procedures
We have updated many of our policies and procedures to make sure they reflect RACS' commitment to building respect, and improving patient safety.
Some of the most important policies and procedures that have been developed or updated include:
- Code of Conduct
- Privacy of Personal Information (PDF 49.5KB)
- Privacy (Conduct Matters) policy (PDF 42.83KB)
- Complaints policy (PDF 111.3KB)
RACS routinely reviews and updates its policies and procedures. We will update this section progressively.
Evaluating our work
We have adopted a three-step evaluation framework to monitor and report on the effectiveness and progress of our work to build respect in surgery. A third comprehensive evaluation is planned for 2026, to measure progress after 10 years.
This comprehensive evaluation framework is helping us measure our progress and continue to refine and improve our work. It helps assess the reach and impact of what we’re doing over the short, medium and long term, and specifically after five and 10 years.
The 2021 evaluation
The 2021 evaluation (which measured five years’ work), found overwhelming (more than 90%) support for RACS work, leadership and commitment to working in partnership to improve the culture of surgery. Results informed the Action Plan: Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety 2022.
Read the report of the Phase 2 Evaluation: Building Respect Improving Patient Safety and the 2021 Prevalence Survey.
The 2019 evaluation
The 2019 evaluation examined whether we had done what we set out to do. It included a survey open to all Fellows, Trainees and International Medical Graduates, qualitative interviews and analysis of other data sources. Independent scrutiny endorsed the work we had done and our commitment do doing it.
Read the Phase 1 Evaluation: Building Respect Improving Patient Safety report.
A second, external review of our feedback and complaints process is now complete. The review was conducted in 2020, and designed to ensure that our process was timely, transparent and procedurally fair, as recommended by the Expert Advisory Group.
The reviewer endorsed RACS feedback and complaints process as appropriate and adapted to the limits on the College’s powers and the environment in which it operates.
Read the findings (PDF 428.08KB) of the independent external reviewer.