Six NHS staff workers are typically reported every week in England for sexually harassing a patient or colleague, the Telegraph can reveal.
Nearly a fifth of English trusts have recorded a rise in reports of sexual harassment within their services since 2017, while millions have been spent by the NHS on legal claims specific to sexual abuse over the same time period, according to newly obtained data.
Health secretary Steve Barclay described the findings as “worrying” and urged NHS leaders to take “robust action in response to any such incidents in their organisation”.
Patient Safety Learning said the Telegraph's “deeply troubling” revelations demonstrated an abuse of the “significant power imbalance” that exists between vulnerable patients and their care providers.
“Healthcare professionals need to recognise the power they hold over patients,” said chief executive Helen Hughes. “Inappropriate behaviours undermine trust in healthcare system and the ability to deliver safe care.”
“Clinicians, managers and healthcare leaders have both a professional and moral responsibility to patients to ensure that there is a safe culture in healthcare settings and that misconduct is not tolerated," said Ms Hughes.
As part of its investigation into sexual harassment within the NHS, the Telegraph uncovered the case of a mentally incapacitated patient who was raped by her healthcare worker and subsequently fell pregnant. The healthcare worker, who is in his 30s, was recently jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to sexual activity with a mentally disordered female.
Joe Matchett, an expert lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who has secured settlements for survivors of abuse, said his firm continues to “represent a number of patients subjected to terrible abuse at the hands of hospital staff who have betrayed their position of trust in the worst imaginable way”.
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Source: The Telegraph, 11 December 2022