2015 Action Plan: Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety

In November 2015, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) launched an Action Plan (PDF 1.05MB) (PDF 1.05MB) to address discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in surgery. It details a comprehensive, multi-year program of work designed to promote respect, counter discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the practice of surgery, and improve patient safety (media release).

The Action Plan translates the recommendations of the College's Expert Advisory Group (EAG) into work that has been prioritised and phased. RACS reports publicly each year on what has been done, and what has been achieved.

The Action Plan steps out RACS' commitment to dealing with unacceptable behaviours by strengthening surgical education and training and reshaping the culture of surgery on foundations of collaboration and respect.

It is bringing significant but necessary changes to the culture of the health workplace and surgical training and focuses on:

  • Cultural change and leadership
  • Surgical education
  • Complaints management.

The RACS 2015 Action Plan sets eight goals, enabling RACS to monitor its progress and make sure that its actions make a difference:

  • Goal 1 - Build a culture of respect and collaboration in surgical practice and education
  • Goal 2 - Respecting the rich history of the surgical profession, advance the culture of surgical practice so there is no place for discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment (DBSH)
  • Goal 3 - Build and foster relationships of trust, confidence and cooperation on DBSH issues with employers, governments and their agencies in all jurisdictions
  • Goal 4 - Embrace diversity and foster gender equity
  • Goal 5 - Increase transparency, independent scrutiny and external accountability in College activities
  • Goal 6 - Improve the capability of all surgeons involved in surgical education to provide effective surgical education based on the principles of respect, transparency and professionalism
  • Goal 7 - Train all Fellows, Trainees and International Medical Graduates to build and consolidate professionalism
  • Goal 8 - Revise and strengthen RACS complaints management process, increasing external scrutiny and demonstrating best practice complaints management that is transparent, robust and fair

RACS is a medical college with a long history of upholding high surgical standards and making positive contributions to the profession and the community. The Action Plan sets out the actions we are taking to promote respect, counter discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment and improve patient safety in surgery.