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The face of surgery is changing

16 Sep 2021

We have today published our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan, following the sixteen recommendations made in the Kennedy Review, which took place earlier this Spring.

The review highlighted inequalities in surgery and shone a torch on the lack of diversity in our leadership positions, which do not reflect the society in which we live or the changing profession of surgery.

Our Action Plan sets out a clear timeline for how we will address all of the sixteen recommendations, so that we can begin to deal with the inequalities some surgeons face, and diversify our leadership. In publishing this plan we aim to achieve the following:

  1. To share our progress and challenges so far;
  2. To begin building confidence of members, the profession and of future entrants to the profession – that DEI issues are a key priority for the College and that together, we’re changing the face of surgery;
  3. To make it clear to all what we intend to do, when we intend to do it and how this activity and these milestones fit within our overall strategy and objectives.

RCS England President Professor Neil Mortensen said: ‘When we invited Baroness Helena Kennedy to undertake the review into our professional leadership, we were under no illusion of the scale of change needed. We knew that our Council was not representative of the NHS, or society as a whole, and that those surgeons who did not fit the stereotype – white and male – did not feel the College or surgery were inclusive.

‘The personal testimonies in the report were harrowing and extremely upsetting to read. No one should be made to feel that they don’t belong. If surgery is to survive and thrive, it is crucial we retain and continue to recruit surgeons from all walks of life. Diversity brings knowledge and ensures our profession remains at the forefront of patient care for generations to come.

‘When we received the recommendations from the review, we fully committed to putting diversity at the heart of our strategy. In July 2021 we launched our new strategy, where diversity, equity and inclusion inform everything we do.

‘This is the first of the sixteen recommendations we have brought to fruition, and we will continue to focus on delivering against our Action Plan. Although we realise there are no ‘quick fixes’ - as is often the case with change – we recognise that we must demonstrate that change is happening. We hope that this plan provides you with the information you need to hold us to account.’

What next?

In addition to embracing the recommendations of the Kennedy Review, we will be developing an LGBTQ+ strategy and taking further action to achieve long-term systemic change. For this reason, in delivering against the Action Plan, we are focusing not just on what we do, but how we do it. We will challenge ourselves to bring new voices into our planning and project activity. We want to stretch our thinking and ask fundamental questions about how we, as a College, can use our powers to greatest effect.

We will be reporting on our progress every six months, holding true to the long-term outcomes we are working towards, reporting on the latest developments and publishing our work accordingly. As part of this, we will monitor progress to demonstrate improvements in attitudes of fellows and members.

Find out more and read the Action Plan.

RCS England diversity action plan 2021

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