2021 Vernon Collins Oration

The 2021 Vernon Collins Oration was delivered by Zoom on Wednesday October 6th by Professor Lyn Gillam AM, Academic Director of the Children’s Bioethics Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital


The title that she spoke to was

     “The Ethical Life of the Hospital”.

Prof Gillam was introduced by Prof Matt Sabin, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of Medical Services & Clinical Governance.

Prof Gillam thanked Prof Sabin and extended thanks to A/Prof Jenny Hynson and Dr Hugo Gold who had provided her with great support since she joined the Royal Children’s Hospital Ethics team.  Her lecture focussed on the broad extent in which ethical issues are part of everyday life for staff, patients, and parents at the hospital.

Many people might think of ethics in terms of “The Clinical Ethics Committee” or “End of life decision making” but these are but a small part of the issues which generate thinking about moral and ethical matters in the care of our patients.

Should a teenage girl be asked about whether she might be pregnant before investigations or Xrays are performed? How can doctors manage when parents seek to protect their child from information that might upset them, but which can be seen as important for them to be aware of. Knowledge that other people in the car which they were passengers in when it was involved in a collision died in the accident.

She spoke about “Virtues in ethical life” referring to “Compassion, Courage, Honesty and Integrity” and to the teachings of Aristotle.

“Ethical principles are not just concepts that we learn about – but what we care about”

She also discussed the many situations which may cause doctors and nurses “moral distress”. These are often situations that leave the staff members with “bad feelings” about what had been done –  including things that they were involved with and the sense that might have failed in a moral sense producing a feeling of “moral regret”. This may often leave a feeling of “unease” or “uncertainty”

A recording of the Lecture can be viewed here:   

Click here to view


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