Statement in response to sexual assault in surgery testimonials
04 Jan 2022
Read our most recent response to the Working Party on Sexual Misconduct in Surgery report, September 2023.
In a joint statement, Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and Miss Tamzin Cuming, Chair of the Women in Surgery Forum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:
'We are outraged and appalled by the testimonials of sexual assault in the surgical workplace that are being shared on Twitter in response to the article Sexual assault in surgery: a painful truth by S Fleming and RA Fisher, published in the September Bulletin, and the letter to the authors submitted in response by Philippa Jackson. We have been aware that there needs to be a cultural change in surgery for some time, but these revelations have shone a light on the very serious issues of sexual harassment and assault in surgery.
'Sexual assault damages careers and lives, and it shames our profession. To Philippa Jackson and the others who have come forward and shared their stories of assault in the surgical workplace – thank you for your bravery and honesty. It is wholly unacceptable that these events have taken place, that so little was done to support and protect you, and that threats were made to your career progression (and in some cases, carried through).
'It is only though your courage and honesty that this kind of abuse can be effectively addressed, however painful the testimony is. We need to hear it, and we must believe people when they come forward. As a profession, and as a College, we must strive for a culture that takes a zero tolerance approach to workplace sexual harassment and assault of any kind.'
If you experience sexual harassment or assault in the workplace please report it to your Trust and to the police. There is information available from Citizens Advice about the process and your rights. If you need advice on the legal process, or need emotional support from a trained counsellor, RCS England provides a 24/7 Confidential Support and Advice Service – the helpline can be reached on 020 7869 6221.