I'm Sorry: Royal Australasian College of Surgeons President Apologises For Bullying Culture

10/09/2015 11:30 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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The president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has taken to YouTube to deliver an unreserved apology to people who have been bullied and harassed by surgeons.

David Watters' apology was uploaded late Wednesday, hours after a damning independent report showed nearly half of all surgeons across all specialities have experienced discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment.

"The college recognises that some of our members have been perpetrators, often from their positions of power and authority," Watters said in the video.

"I apologise to every one of you have suffered discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment by surgeons.

"I also apologise to all other health workers on whom surgeons have inflicted these behaviors.

"I am sorry that too many of us have been silent bystanders -- this silence has been part of the problem."

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The report, compiled by the Expert Advisory Group for the college, also showed 71 per cent of hospitals reported discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment in the last five years, with bullying the most frequently reported issue, pointing at senior surgeons and surgical consultants as the perpetrators.

College vice-president Graeme Campbell told The Huffington Post Australia the results were concerning.

“We suspected there was a serious problem but we are disturbed and a little surprised at the depth and severity of the problem,” Campbell said.

“Half of our members reported that they’ve been bullied or subjected to harassment.

"It’s significantly confronting.”

Campbell said the study was promoting widespread changes looking at improving the way complaints are made, addressing the gender imbalance and changing the way surgeons are taught.

“Historically, the education style of medicine has been that of intimidation and belittling," Campbell said.

"We’re looking at ways we can improve education so the next generation of surgeons are given feedback in a way that’s not intimidating or bullying.

"Changing culture is a long process but we're committed."

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