Statement on sexual harassment and assault 

We are appalled and deeply dismayed at the findings of the recent survey amongst surgeons, which revealed a culture of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Some of the letters subsequently published in national newspapers, which condoned such behaviour, were similarly abhorrent.
We are under no illusion that these behaviours and experiences are confined to surgery only, and we commend our colleagues in this field for bravely highlighting their experiences and shining a spotlight on the issue.
The College condemns any attempts to normalise cultures of misogyny, bullying and harassment in surgery, in medicine or in any other workplace. It is not 'banter' or a rite of passage, but abuse and bullying. Abusers and bullies have no place in medicine including in our teams, in our hospitals or at this College - in any shape or form. 
The medical community must unite to tackle sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Furthermore, the medical community must commit to action by identifying, condemning, and reporting incidents when they occur.

The College has already signed the BMA pledge to End sexism in Medicine, the NHS Sexual Safety Charter and is partnering with Surviving in Scrubs to advocate for organisational change, in order to create positive working environments for women.

Furthermore, we support recent revisions to the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidance, which now includes specific guidance on sexual harassment of colleagues. The new guidance states that doctors ‘must not act in a sexual way towards colleagues with the effect or purpose of causing offence, embarrassment, humiliation or distress’. This includes verbal or written comments, displaying or sharing images, and physical contact. We would urge colleagues to familiarise themselves with guidance, if they have not already, with a view to implementing it at work.
We ask that all of our Fellows and Members join with us by committing to support system change, and in doing so work towards a safer and fairer culture for all.


Signed by:

Dr Kerri Baker, Dean of Education
Dr Dawn Ashley, Dean of Training
Dr Sue Pound, Vice President for Scotland and Northern Ireland
Professor Andrew Elder, President
Professor Sunil Bhandari, Vice President for England & Wales
Dr Conor Maguire, Vice President International
Professor Mark Strachan, Secretary
Dr Deepak Dwarakanath, Charter Trustee
Ms Elaine Tait, Charter Trustee
Professor John Connell, Charter Trustee
Professor Sir Alan Craft, Charter Trustee
Mr Keith McKellar, CEO
Ms Lindsay Paterson, Director of Global Engagement
Dr Mary Fraser, Director of Education, Training and Examinations
Professor Angela Thomas, Heritage Trustee and Honorary Librarian
Dr Matt Thomas, Dean of Examinations and Regional Adviser for South West England
Dr Helen Liddicoat, elected Council member for Recently Appointed Consultants
Dr Hannah Preston, Chair of Trainees and Members Committee
Dr Jane Wallace, elected Council member for North East England
Dr Catherine Labinjoh, elected Council member for Central Scotland
Mr Alex MacDonald, Chair of Lay Advisory Committee
Dr Sharan Ramakrishna, elected Council member for Wales
Dr Laura Clark, elected Council member for Northern Scotland
Dr Andrew Coull, elected Council member for Lothian, Fife and Borders
Dr Neeraj Bhala, elected Council member for West of England
Dr Kevin O'Kane, elected Council member for Greater London
Dr MaryAnn Ferreux, Chair of Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity
Dr Kathleen White, Treasurer
Dr Hasnain Jafferbhoy, elected Council member for Lothian, Fife and Borders
Professor Arjune Sen, elected Council member for South of England
Dr Soon Song, elected Council member for Central England
Professor Neil Turner, Deputy Dean for Education
Dr Paul Syme, Deputy Dean for Education
Dr Euan Sandilands, Deputy Dean for Training