IHPN reacts to damning surgery report

A damning report published in the British Journal of Surgery, has highlighted the poor experience of female surgeons, who say they are being sexually harassed, assaulted and in some cases raped by colleagues.

Registered surgeons – men and women – were invited to take part completely anonymously and 1,434 responded. Half were women:

63% of women had been the target of sexual harassment from colleagues
30% of women had been sexually assaulted by a colleague
11% of women reported forced physical contact related to career opportunities
At least 11 incidents of rape were reported
90% of women, and 81% of men, had witnessed some form of sexual misconduct

Dawn Hodgkins, director of regulation, Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: “This report is deeply concerning, and lays bare the shocking extent to which female surgeons are being treated appallingly in their place of work.

“It’s not just the appalling severity of the incidents reported, but the frequency and scale of the problem is equally damning – there are clearly massive, endemic issues which need rooting out.  

“This must be a wake up call to make significant and unequivocal changes to the culture which has enabled these behaviours to bed in and become so worryingly normalised.

“It’s totally unacceptable.

“We need everyone – whether that’s professional bodies, employers, or colleagues within and around surgical teams – to take a zero tolerance approach to this issue.

“This will include taking urgent steps to ensure that we are supporting colleagues to call out this behaviour, to investigate incidents, and to make sure appropriate action is taken, so that female colleagues can begin to feel safe and supported.  

“We will be encouraging members and partners to engage swiftly and fully to make the progress which is so clearly needed.”