Statement from the British Cardiovascular Society in response to the WPSMS report on sexual misconduct in surgery


Last week the Working Party on Sexual Misconduct in Surgery (WPSMS) published a report of their recent findings and recommendations.

They concluded:

'Sexual misconduct in the past 5 years has been experienced widely, with women affected disproportionately. Accountable organizations are not regarded as dealing adequately with this issue.'

Officers, members and staff of the British Cardiovascular Society share others’ distress at these findings, which include extremely serious misconduct. While the report specifically describes the experience of surgeons, the victims and perpetrators are nevertheless our colleagues. Commentary has referred to a cultural environment that enables this misconduct, and it is this culture that the BCS can improve as a national society.

We know that sexism and sexual harassment does occur in cardiology from studies (including Sexism experienced by consultant cardiologists in the UK and Women in Cardiology: The British Junior Cardiologists’ Association identifies challenges) as it does throughout society, but we are committed to addressing it. We recently published a position statement on bullying, harassment and discrimination that includes our own recommendations.

The British Cardiovascular Society:

  • Condemns all forms of sexual misconduct and harassment.
  • Supports the recommendations outlined by WPSMS along with our own recommendations published here and is fully committed to achieving them.
  • Believes in zero tolerance towards sexual misconduct in the workplace and is committed to stamping it out.
  • Encourages colleagues who witness this misconduct to call out or report it where they can.
  • For those affected by sexual misconduct in the workplace, support is available from the sources below. As a society, we shall continue to work towards a safe and equal workplace for all cardiologists and their colleagues.

Abhishek Joshi, VP for Professional and Society Values, British Cardiovascular Society

Jo Lim, Women in Cardiology Lead, British Cardiovascular Society

Women in Cardiology Committee

Fielder Camm, President, British Junior Cardiologists Association

John Greenwood, President, British Cardiovascular Society

Sources of support

The British Medical Association provides a free, confidential, 24/7 counselling and peer support service for doctors and medical students on 0330 123 1245.

Rape Crisis England and Wales and Rape Crisis Scotland provide individual support and advice, and campaign to end sexual violence and abuse.

Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer crisis care, medical examinations, emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections following sexual assault, a postcode search facility to find your nearest centre is available here.

NHS England provides a 24/7 confidential text support service, for NHS staff, which you can access support by texting FRONTLINE to 85258.

The National Guardian's Office website provides information and advice on speaking up, and a searchable map for you to find your local Freedom to Speak Up Guardian.

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