What Can You Do?

Speak up. If you see someone being bullied, harassed or undermined then speak to the perpetrator and challenge their behaviour. If you do not feel comfortable doing this on your own, then ask a colleague to accompany you, or speak to their line manager. DON’T leave it – challenge it before it becomes a recurring problem.

Report it. If speaking to the bully has not changed their behaviour and it becomes and on-going problem then report it to their line manager. In extreme circumstances you might wish to speak to the GMC. See our section on the facts and the law.

Document every incidence and interaction. Keep a record of every encounter you have, write down what was said, and try and keep to the facts. This can be used as evidence if needed.

Employment Tribunal. As a last resort you may wish to consider taking things further. Read about how to go about this here.

Reflect on your own practice. Have you ever been rude to the referring GP or A&E doctor? Has someone tested your patience in theatre today? Were you short with the clinic staff because you were overbooked? We often think about clinical cases when we go home, but how often do we think about how our actions affected others? Could you be perceived as a bully?

Take our online e-module. This e-module guides you through the facts, identifies the problem and suggests ways of managing our own behaviour in order to change the surgical culture. CPD accredited. RCSEd online account holders can access the e-module by logging in with your RCSEd account here. Non-RCSEd online account holders will first need to register to create an online RCSEd account here. Once you have registered, you can then log in to complete the e-module with your new RCSEd account here.

Go on our professional development course. We are currently developing a bespoke course designed for surgeons and dentists, showing us how to get the best out of our professional relationships. To register your interest in this course please email education@rcsed.ac.uk 

Schwartz rounds. Ask your organisation if you can set up a monthly Schwartz round. These are group meetings for all staff where the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare are discussed. For more information and to find out how to register please contact the Point of Care Foundation.

Present at your hospital. We want you to spread the word that disruptive behaviour is not acceptable. We have two presentations available; a ten minute and a thirty minute version for you to present at grand rounds or departmental meetings in your own hospitals. Guidance notes are attached at the end of each slide.

Print out a poster. We have posters made to put up in the workplace. These are available to download in portrait or landscape.

Other Avenues for Help

Sometimes you may need to source help from an external agency. The following links may be useful:

  • The BMA offer a wealth of help on their website, that covers a variety of topics, e.g. bereavement, addiction, counselling and wellbeing.
  • Doctors’ Support Network
  • The Royal College of Nursing provides advice and support to members who may be experiencing bullying and harassment in the workplace and can be contacted on 0345 772 6100.
  • The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund – Health and Wellbeing section
  • The Samaritans offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you.
  • Counselling Directory is a confidential service that encourages those in need to seek help. 


The College has a zero tolerance approach to bullying, undermining and harassment and categorically condemns this in all circumstances.

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


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