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Anti-Bullying and Undermining Campaign

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) has a zero tolerance approach to bullying, undermining and harassment and categorically condemns this in all circumstances.

The link between bullying and undermining behaviour and patient safety is now clear. Evidence that this kind of behaviour has a negative impact on the workings of a team is getting bigger year on year. The extent of bullying and undermining throughout healthcare is well documented, and surgery in particular is often reported as being a specialty where it is particularly prevalent. In the College’s own membership survey, nearly 40% of respondents (aimed at healthcare professionals who work with adult patients) reported they had been victims of such behaviour, with the same amount reporting that they had witnessed it. 

The consequences of bullying and harassment in the NHS cost the service in England at least £2.28bn (€2.58bn; $2.96bn) a year, an analysis suggests, and healthcare professionals have attributed disruptive behaviour in the perioperative area alone to 67% of adverse events, 71% of medical errors, and 27% of perioperative deaths.

Bullying harms your profession and your patients. Let’s remove it.

We all have a role to play if we want to change the culture of the surgical and dental workplace.

Disruptive behaviour in the surgical and dental environment does not allow staff to work in a supportive environment, is bad for patient safety and is not in keeping with the General Medical Council's Good Medical Practice, nor the Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Practice 2015

  • Has workplace bullying, undermining or harassment affected you?
  • Have you thought about how your behaviour might affect others?

What can you do?

Adhere to the College standards for prevention of bullying and undermining in the health service. Further advice on the next steps you can take can be found here

2018 Progress Report

The College launched the #LetsRemoveIt anti-bullying and undermining campaign in June 2017 and since then has undertaken and implemented activities to help address and lead cultural change across the healthcare professions. We are mindful that the RCSEd cannot achieve change alone. To influence all workplaces and training environments a long term, coordinated set of collaborations will be required to deliver the impact we are seeking.

> Read our latest progress report here.

Anti-Bullying and Undermining Events

The College hosts a number of events around our Anti-Bullying and Undermining Campaign, aimed at promoting the services we offer and the help we can give you and your colleagues alike. 

> Read more

BMJ Interview David Riding 

Chair of RCSEd Trainees Committee, David Riding speaks to BMJ about the challenges of bullying and undermining in the profession. Recorded 4 April 2019.  


The RCSEd campaign to tackle undermining and bullying in surgery and dentistry was a College initiative and the work was carried out by a group of surgeons and dentists, consisting of Council members, consultants, SAS doctors and trainees.
We extend our thanks to the following organisations and individuals for their invaluable help, support and inspiration:
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (Professor Steven Tobin)
  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (Professor Clare McKenzie, Professor Janice Rymer, Dr Jo Mountfield, Dr Will Parry-Smith)
  • Dr Francesca Norris, Cardiff University / Wales Deanery
  • Dr Mark Stacey, Wales Deanery
  • Elaine Russ, CUREMeDE, Cardiff University
This campaign is endorsed by:



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