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RCOG/RCM press announcement: Royal Colleges jointly address issue of undermining and bullying in the workplace

News 24 September 2013

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have joined forces to reduce undermining and bullying behaviour in the workplace with a new joint statement published today.

The two Colleges condemn undermining and bullying behaviour and are working together to promote a positive working environment for the profession and to deliver better care to women and their families.

In obstetrics and gynaecology, the General Medical Council trainee surveys have shown that undermining and bullying behaviour is a problem for trainees. The RCM’s surveys have found that 43% of students and fully qualified midwives reported that they had experienced bullying and harassment from a colleague. Bullying has been cited as a major reason why many midwives leave the profession. In addition, the 2012 NHS England Staff Survey reveals that midwives experience harassment or abuse from managers.

This joint statement arises from a workshop held early in 2013 between the RCOG and the RCM where a joint action plan was developed and work is underway to implement a strategy to address undermining in the maternity and obstetrics and gynaecology workplace. The action plan includes the development of a tool kit for organisations to use in addressing unacceptable behaviours.

Dr Tony Falconer, President of the RCOG, said:

“Maternity care requires multi-disciplinary team-working between different healthcare professionals. Tensions can run high in busy labour wards, especially during emergencies or when staff are overstretched. The stress can be great but that does not excuse bullying behaviour between colleagues and we must do what we can to ensure that doctors and midwives work together in a conducive environment.

“Ultimately, our shared goal is to provide high quality care for mothers and their babies and we have to do this collaboratively.”

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“We know that women are more likely to receive high-quality maternity care when midwives and doctors are working well together and showing each other respect. There is no excuse for undermining or bullying behaviours in maternity services, sadly the RCM and NHS surveys reflect that there is inappropriate and bullying behaviour across and between the professions.

“The RCM is delighted to be working with the RCOG to stop inappropriate behaviours and to support midwives and doctors in developing positive and productive working relationships to improve services for mothers and babies.”


View the statement online here

For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email, or Manuela Da Costa-Fernandes at the Royal College of Midwives on 0207 312 3456 or


In 2013 the RCOG established the new position of RCOG Workplace Adviser. Dr Joanna Mountfield FRCOG was appointed to this role and she is responsible for leading on the College’s strategy to address undermining behaviour in the specialty. The RCOG is the first medical royal college to make such an appointment.