10 March 2015
Letter to the Editor
Response to the Age anonymous letter from the President
of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
Thank you for having the courage to write your letter, albeit
anonymously, outlining your substantial concerns about the health
sector and the practice of surgery.
The College of Surgeons believes that bullying and harassment
are far too prevalent in society and in the health sector. Indeed
as I stated yesterday, any sexual harassment is abhorrent. In
communication to you and your fellow surgeons yesterday, I
described bullying and harassment as a scourge of the modern
workplace. It occurs between and within multiple professions and at
multiple levels of seniority. It needs to be addressed, not just as
a professional body such as the College, but by employers like
Hospitals and Departments of Health and most importantly by all of
us as individuals. As individuals we can and must stand up to these
issues so that the culture of the workplace will change.
The examples you provide in your letter are horrifying and they
need to be condemned. It is this type of behaviour that is truly
insulting. When I used the word insulting yesterday, I was strongly
condemning any recommendation that any female surgeon past, present
or future, should suffer sexual harassment in silence. This
statement is a travesty. As a profession we need to be so much
better than this.
However, your letter highlights the importance of continuing to
change the culture and continuing to improve our standards. Much
has been done and continues to be done. Bullying and harassment is
being addressed. However, the cultural change must be embraced and
far more fully in the workplace and the health sector. The
increased participation in the surgical workforce by female
Trainees is fantastic. They must be encouraged, they must feel
safe, they must be able to speak up and they must be respected.
The College has addressed and continues to address issues of
bullying and harassment. It must do more to ensure these changes
have impact and endurance in the workplace. The changes also need
to be embraced by Hospitals and other employers.
As you say, there is still so much to do. I ask that you do work
with your colleagues and that you do work with the College to
ensure that we triumph over this scourge of the workplace.
Professor Michael Grigg
10 March 2015
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