Intended for healthcare professionals


Training to tackle bullying

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 14 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2878


Junior doctors should receive compulsory training on how to challenge bullying behaviour, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has said


As part of its #LetsRemoveIt campaign against bullying and undermining behaviour, the college has called on deaneries, Health Education England, and NHS Education for Scotland to introduce relevant compulsory training for doctors in foundation training. The campaign urges NHS trusts and boards to introduce measures to ensure that people who bully and undermine colleagues have their training responsibilities removed.

Zero tolerance

Michael Lavelle-Jones, the college’s president, said that the college had a “zero tolerance” approach to bullying, undermining, and harassment and categorically condemned these in all circumstances.


This training would help bring a culture change, the college said, to “encourage people to challenge poor behaviour and think about their own behaviour from the very start of their career.” Lavelle-Jones said, “We want to change the culture of healthcare to ensure that this kind of behaviour becomes so unacceptable it can no longer go on.”


Lavelle-Jones said that the case of Ian Paterson, a breast surgeon who was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for carrying out unnecessary operations, highlighted the need to tackle bullying in the workplace. “We must change the culture in which such a surgeon can remain unchallenged, with the team around them perhaps aware of some of the issues but too scared to speak up,” he said.

All health workers

The college has called on all healthcare professionals to sign up to the principles of the #LetsRemoveIt campaign and work together to tackle bullying and undermining in the workplace. It said that trusts and boards should give staff the time to undertake training on bullying and that they should work with all healthcare specialties to improve the workplace culture.

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