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Mental health patients ‘raped and sexually assaulted’ as NHS abuse scandal revealed

Tens of thousands of sexual assaults and incidents have been reported in NHS-run mental health hospitals as a “national scandal” of sexual abuse of patients on psychiatric wards can be revealed.

Almost 20,000 reports of sexual incidents in the last five years have been made in more than half of NHS mental health trusts, according to exclusive data uncovered in a joint investigation and podcast by The Independent and Sky News.

The shocking findings, triggered by one woman’s dramatic story of escape following a sexual assault in hospital revealed in a podcast, Patient 11, show NHS trusts are failing to report the majority of incidents to the police and are not meeting vital standards designed to protect the UK’s most vulnerable patients from sexual harm.

Throughout the 18-month investigation, multiple patients and their families spoke to The Independent about their stories of sexual assault and abuse while locked in mental health units.

Dr Lade Smith, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, called the findings “horrendous”, while shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said it was a “wake-up call” for the government.

Dr Smith told The Independent: “There is no place for sexual violence in society, which has a profound and long-lasting negative impact on people’s lives. Today’s horrendous findings show that there is still much to do to make sure that patients and staff in mental health trusts are protected from sexual harms at all times.

“It is deeply troubling to see that so many incidents in mental health settings go unreported.”

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Source: The Independent, 29 January 2024


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