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Trust apologises for saying patient’s sexual assault ‘didn’t happen’

A hospital trust has apologised to a mental health patient who reported being sexually assaulted in its A&E department – after it emerged in a safety review that staff wrote ‘this has not happened’ and dismissed her claims of the attack.

The victim was admitted to West Suffolk Hospital’s emergency department following an overdose in January last year. While waiting in A&E for a mental health assessment from a specialist team employed by Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, she reported being sexually assaulted by a male patient who had also been admitted to A&E.

Yet a review into the incident, published several months later and shared with HSJ, reveals that after the victim reported the attack to a nurse, the staff member recorded “this has not happened”.

They stated that the male suspect in the cubicle next to her had not left his bed and was under constant observation. However, the patient safety review, drawn up after a serious incident probe was launched, adds that this statement was “incorrect, as the [male] patient was not under constant observation”.

“There were witnesses to this incident, and CCTV, and yet it was not escalated until I contacted the trust myself to complain,” the victim said. 

She added that she pursued the complaint, which resulted in a serious incident probe that took several months to conclude, “to prevent others from being failed” in the same way.

She said she was left “shocked, confused and furious” to discover staff had dismissed her assault and claimed the male suspect had not been admitted for an assessment on the day of the attack.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 7 February 2022


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