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June 07, 2023

NHS Sexual Misconduct Cases Exceeds 35,000 in 5 Years

A five-year record between 2017 and 2022 reveals over 35,000 incidents of sexual misconduct or sexual violence in the NHS. This figure represents cases ranging from derogatory remarks to rape - recorded in NHS facilities in England.

The data which was obtained by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Guardian showed at least 20% of incidents involved rape, sexual assault or inappropriate physical contact - including kissing. Additionally, there were cases of sexual harassment, stalking and abusive or degrading remarks.

A former patient described how she was sexually assaulted by a male patient while she had been showering in a hospital.

She said "The door flew open and there was a man in the doorway. I screamed as I had no clothes on. He ran towards me and shouted 'I'll have some of that'." She explained that she managed to elbow him and pushed him away when he grabbed her. She ran out and was trying to cover herself with her hands while running as everyone was staring at her.

Now in her early 80s, this lady was admitted back in 2020 after suffering a heart attack and said that her attacker had been sitting in a chair outside the shower room. She also mentioned that she did not get any support from the hospital after the attack. The NHS Trust involved also admitted that they should have done more.

Although the incident was reported to the police, they said there wasn’t enough evidence to go ahead with a prosecution.

An NHS spokesperson has said that NHS Trusts should put in place measures to tackle cases of sexual harassment and assault that is brought to their knowledge.

However, an investigation by the BMJ and Guardian discovered that less than 1 in 10 NHS Trusts have a policy that deals with sexual assault and harassment. As it is now, managers are no longer obligated to report a case of staff abuse to a central database.

The Liberal Democrats' health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said there is a need to create a new sexual complaints system to protect patients, visitors and staff.

She described the case or sexual attack on the elderly lady as "absolutely unacceptable"

She said, "I'm hearing time and time again, this has happened to so many other people. There is not a simple, clearly signposted way for people to make a complaint of a sexual nature and for it to be treated with respect and be treated efficiently."

Records have shown over 20,000 alleged incidents of sexual violence and sexual misconduct by patients on hospital staff.

A former nurse recounted how a patient grabbed her breasts while she was checking the cannula on the back of his hand. She says the ordeal affected her mental health.

A Consultant, Philippa Jackson also told a story of how she was sexually assaulted by a senior NHS colleague when working as a junior doctor. This colleague of hers rubbed himself against her thigh, made a comment about his erection and even kissed the bottom of her neck. According to her, the incident made her very uncomfortable and when she made a formal complaint, she was asked whether she had led him on.

Ms Jackson also said no action was taken against the man as she was told there was no case to answer since there were no witnesses and so it could not be proven.

Investigations by the BMJ and Guardian also showed that only 576 of the over 4,000 NHS staff who were accused of rape, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, or abusive remarks towards other staff or patients during the period under review faced any disciplinary action.

A statement from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "The health and social care secretary is working closely with the NHS and recently convened an urgent meeting with NHS leaders to discuss how to root out this vile behaviour and ensure services are always safe for staff and patients."

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