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Calls for public inquiry into 20,000 sexual abuse allegations on NHS wards

The government is facing calls for a public inquiry into the scandal of sexual abuse in mental health hospitals, following an investigation by The Independent.

Rape Crisis England and Wales has warned that the “alarming” scale of abuse within the UK’s psychiatric system requires “major intervention” from ministers.

It comes after an expose by the Independent and Sky News revealed that almost 20,000 reports of sexual incidents – involving both patients and staff – had been made in more than half of NHS mental health trusts in the past five years.

As well as a public inquiry, which would give survivors the chance to give evidence, Rape Crisis England and Wales wants the government to appoint a named minister with responsibility for addressing the problem.

Chief executive Ciara Bergman said: “That anyone in the already vulnerable position of needing or being detained for in-patient care because of their mental health needs should experience sexual violence and abuse whilst in the care of the state, is deeply concerning.

“We are concerned that without major intervention and leadership at the highest levels, this could lead to more incidents of sexual violence and abuse happening, and this behaviour being accepted as inevitable, when it is not, and is indeed absolutely preventable.”

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Source: The Independent, 15 March 2024


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