1 July 2016
St Vincent's Health Australia (SVHA) and the Royal Australasian
College of Surgeons (RACS) have signed a Memorandum of
Understanding to deal more effectively with reports of
discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the surgical
workplace and improve patient safety.
"Hospital wards, operating theatres and outpatients are where
surgical education and health service employment overlap," said
RACS President, Mr Philip Truskett AM.
"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 impact on the
whole team and not just the people at which it's directed. This MOU
is an important step to improving patient safety by improving work
environments,'" Mr Truskett said.
"St Vincent's Health Australia is serious about dealing
effectively with these challenges and confident that our
partnership with RACS will help us both improve outcomes for our
patients and the well-being of our staff," said SVHA CEO, Toby
In 2015 - as RACS established its Expert Advisory Group to
examine discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment (DBSH) in
the practice of surgery - SVHA established an internal program to
address the same issues across its organisation.
SVHA's Ethos program brings together an electronic reporting
system, an accountability framework and a comprehensive peer
training initiative. It is underpinned by the recognition of a
proven link between poor behaviours and adverse surgical
"We are determined to confront these issues and play a
leadership role for the benefit of our staff and patients. This
agreement with RACS is an important way to help us achieve that,'
Mr Hall said.
The MoU commits both agencies to a shared vision to provide high
quality training, education and experience in the practice of
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 Safety);
MEDIA RELEASE Media inquiries: Greg Meyer Paul Andrews Manager,
RACS Communications SVHA Group Media Manager & Advocacy
department Mob: 0409 665 495 Mob: 0429 028 933 Nicole Newton: +61
407 998 611
- ensuring that complaints about discrimination, bullying and
sexual harassment involving trainees, International Medical
Graduates or College Fellows employed at SVHA 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 without engaging in 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.
This MoU with SVHA is the first RACS has established with a
national healthcare network 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
RACS is the leading advocate for surgical standards,
professionalism and surgical education in Australia and New
Zealand. The College is a not-for-profit organisation that
represents more than 7000 surgeons and 1300 surgical trainees and
International Medical Graduates. RACS also supports healthcare and
surgical education in the Asia-Pacific region and is a substantial
funder of surgical research. There are nine surgical specialties in
Australasia being: Cardiothoracic surgery, General surgery,
Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic surgery, Otolaryngology Head-and-Neck
surgery, Paediatric surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive surgery,
Urology and Vascular surgery. www.surgeons.org
SVHA is Australia's largest non-profit provider of health and
aged care services. A clinical, research and education leader
working in private hospitals, public hospitals and aged care
services in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, SVHA was
established by the Sisters of Charity over 175 years ago.
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