College Response to the Findings of the Working Party on Sexual Misconduct in Surgery

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15 Sep 2023

As President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, I am deeply concerned by the distressing findings from the recent report by the Working Party on Sexual Misconduct in Surgery (WPSMS). It is imperative to emphasise that such behaviours are entirely unacceptable within our profession.

I share with you the following statements that I fully endorse and which have been issued this week on our website:

Joint statement with Presidents of our sister colleges

Joint Committee on Surgical Training (JCST) statement


The College has actively begun several areas of work under this area, including the following:

Sexual Safety in Healthcare Organisational Charter

Every individual within the healthcare system is entitled to a safe and supportive work environment, where they can learn and grow without fear of unwanted or inappropriate sexual behaviour. By signing this charter, the College pledges to collaborate both internally and with fellow healthcare organisations to address and eliminate any form of unwanted, inappropriate, or harmful sexual behaviour. We will take on the responsibility of proactive intervention should we witness such conduct and commit to a steadfast zero-tolerance stance against any such behaviours towards our valued workforce.

Collaborative Support

In collaboration with the Working Party on Sexual Misconduct in Surgery (WPSMS), all four Colleges not only supported the survey distribution but also provided financial backing for the comprehensive data analysis. This crucial step allows us to better understand the scope of the issue and formulate targeted solutions.

Joint Projects and Partnerships

We are actively engaging with key stakeholders, including representatives from NHS England Workforce, Training & Education (WTE) Directorate, the Confederation of Postgraduate Schools of Surgery (CoPPS), and NHS Education for Scotland (NES). These partnerships will pave the way for joint projects, and we are working on discussions with NHS employers as we recognise that many solutions lie in improving reporting systems and providing support for victims of sexual misconduct within the healthcare system.

The Hunter Doig Short Life Working Group

Last week, we convened a meeting of the Hunter Doig Short Life Working Group, a significant milestone. We envision this group evolving into a dedicated College community tailored to support women in surgery. This initiative will complement our existing efforts, such as the Trainees' Committee and support for our young surgeons of all genders, ensuring a holistic approach to mentorship and assistance within our profession.

Learning from International Experiences

To gain valuable insights and knowledge, we have been collaborating with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). Their experiences in addressing similar issues in the past provide us with valuable lessons and guidance as we work towards solutions on this front.



In closing, I reiterate our unwavering commitment to eradicating sexual misconduct from the surgical profession. Your support, dedication, and insights are vital in this endeavour. Together, we can create a safe and inclusive environment that upholds the highest standards of professionalism and respect in surgery.


Professor Rowan W Parks


President, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

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