Experts who investigated discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment by surgeons are “shocked” at the scope of the problem.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) on Thursday apologised for the behaviours, accepting in full the recommendations and draft report of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG).
“These behaviours have been too long tolerated and have compromised the personal and professional lives of many in the health workforce,” said RACS president Professor David Watters.
The report found the problems existed across all surgical specialties, with senior surgeons and surgical consultants found to be the prime offenders.
“We have been shocked by what we have heard,” said EAG chair Rob Knowles.
“The College must be bold and embrace this opportunity to make lasting, positive change.
“There is no room for bystanders and hospitals, employers, governments, health professional and industrial associations, and other partners in the health sector must also meet their responsibilities and make a sustained commitment to action.”
Of the 48 per cent of fellows, trainees and international medical graduates who responded to a survey, 49 per cent reported having been subjected to discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment
The report highlights gender inequity as a central issue to be addressed.
Other areas include culture and leadership, surgical education and complaints management.
Prof Watters noted many of those affected by the behaviours said they felt they couldn’t complain as they didn’t trust the College.
“We must now earn that trust by fairly and effectively addressing these problems,” he said.
RACS will publish an Action Plan by the end of November to address the issues and recommendations.