Surgeons Launch Campaign to Tackle Sexual Misconduct in Healthcare

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29 Jan 2024

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) has launched a powerful UK-wide campaign to raise awareness and encourage zero tolerance of sexual misconduct in healthcare.

The ‘Let’s Remove It’ (#LetsRemoveIt) campaign has been activated in response to the alarming findings uncovered by the Working Party on Sexual Misconduct in Surgery (WPSMS) and the Surviving in Scrubs group, which highlighted the harassment and sexual abuse faced by many in surgery.

The campaign will be driven by a newly formed action committee within RCSEd, The Hunter Doig Group, named after two pioneering women in surgery and consisting of 30 female representatives dedicated to wiping out sexual misconduct and serving as mentors, advocates, and guardians of a new era of respect within the medical profession.

It comes as a report by the WPSMS highlighted how a staggering 89% women and 81% men have witnessed sexual misconduct in the surgical profession in the last five years.

The ‘Let’s Remove It’ campaign will include:

  • An online hub of resources and signposting for support
  • Hard-hitting posters and billboards around UK hospitals
  • An updated Code of Conduct developed for members of RCSEd
  • A series of webinars on dealing with sexual misconduct, women in surgery and related topics


Clare McNaught, Vice President of RCSEd, who is leading the campaign, said:

“This behaviour simply must not happen and the culture that has allowed it to happen must be wiped out."

“Our campaign says ‘Let’s Remove It’ - we are all in this together and can unite to eliminate sexual misconduct in surgery.

“Sexual misconduct in any form is an assault on dignity and encompasses a range of unwanted actions that create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for survivors.  

“This can include sexual comments or jokes, displaying sexualised pictures, inappropriate emails, texts or WhatsApp messages, unwelcome physical contact, enhanced career opportunities offered for sex, sexual assault, and rape.

“It’s also important to understand that although sexual misconduct is predominately experienced by female staff, it can affect any healthcare worker.”


RCSEd President, Professor Rowan Parks, said:

“We're acutely aware of our role as a College in supporting cultural change to ensure a safer, more inclusive workforce where respect is non-negotiable.

“By launching our ‘Let’s Remove It’ campaign, we say 'No more’. No more turning a blind eye. No more accepting the unacceptable. This must be a watershed moment for our profession.”

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is backing the campaign’s roll-out across Scotland. Professor Emma Watson, Executive Medical Director at NES, said: “We are very supportive of this important campaign that aims to remove sexual misconduct from surgery in Scotland. Education and training in our NHS is about more than technical skills – respectful, safe, inclusive conduct is just as crucial and a culture that does not support this must be wiped out.”


The campaign focussing on sexual misconduct builds on RCSEd’s ongoing work to eradicate bullying and undermining in surgery and highlight the destructive impact such unacceptable behaviours have on clinicians and patient care.  


About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

  • RCSEd was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505 and is based in Edinburgh and Birmingham.
  • It is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world with a worldwide membership of more than 32,000, which includes 15,000 members in the UK.
  • The College also has a significant global presence with members in over 100 countries worldwide. 
  • The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce.
  • It is also home to the UK’s only Faculty of Surgical Trainers, open to all those with an interest in surgical training regardless of College affiliation.
  • Find RCSEd at, on Twitter, on Facebook, and Instagram.

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