28 July 2016
Metro South Health, Queensland and the Royal Australasian
College of Surgeons (RACS) have signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) to deal more effectively with reports of
discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment (DBSH) in the
surgical workplace, and to improve patient safety.
"Hospital wards, operating theatres and outpatients are where
surgical education and health service employment overlap," said
RACS Vice President, Professor Spencer Beasley.
"It makes sense for employers and educators to look for new ways
to improve the experience of Surgical Trainees, make hospitals a
better and safer place to work, and improve patient safety," he
"Research shows that bad behaviour has a negative influence on
the whole team and not just the people to which it is directed.
This MOU is an important step that will improve patient safety by
improving the work environment,'" Professor. Beasley said.
"Metro South Health strongly believes that every employee has
the right to work in an environment free from any form of bullying,
sexual harassment and discrimination," said Dr Susan O'Dwyer,
Executive Director, Medical Services for Metro South Health.
"As an organisation, we have a leadership role to ensure the
principles which promote a workplace free from harassment are
integrated into everyday practice. We believe that a safe and
supportive work environment not only benefits our staff, but also
delivers better outcomes for our patients."
"Our partnership with RACS will strengthen the existing
supportive culture within our surgical teams and provide a solid
framework to promptly address any issues if they occur," Dr O'Dwyer
The MoU commits both agencies to a shared vision to provide high
quality training, education and experience in the practice of
surgery. Specific initiatives include:
- aligning or developing policies and processes to deal with DBSH
using the 'Vanderbilt Principles' as a foundation (See appendix two
RACS Action Plan: Building Respect, Improving Patient
- ensuring that complaints about discrimination, bullying and
sexual harassment involving Trainees, International Medical
Graduates or RACS Fellows employed at Metro South Health 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 support to provide high quality training,
assessment, feedback and support to Trainees and International
Medical Graduates without engaging in DBSH. This will also involve
the sharing of information and resources for training programs to
Collaborating with employers to build respect in surgery is one
of RACS' core commitments in its
Action Plan: Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety.
This MoU with Metro South Health is the first RACS has
established with a regional health network in Queensland and the
latest in a series of agreements with hospitals and other agencies
in healthcare, which employ surgeons or oversee health systems.
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.
Download full media release (PDF 161KB)