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Secret NHS report reveals failure to protect trainee paramedics from sexual harassment and racism

A secret report has warned that the NHS is failing to protect trainee paramedics from widespread sexual harassment and racism at work, The Independent has revealed.

A confidential NHS England report uncovered by The Independent has found that “extremely alarming” conduct and undermining behaviour are rife in ambulance trusts across the country, with trainees subjected to derogatory comments about their age, ethnicity and appearance in front of patients.

There is a “worrying acceptance” that this is “part of the job”, with students hesitant to raise complaints about sexual behaviour by male colleagues in case it gives them a reputation as “annoying snowflakes”, the report says.

The revelations come after a recent NHS staff survey revealed that thousands of ambulance staff had reported unwanted sexual behaviour from colleagues and patients last year.

One healthcare leader described the findings as “harrowing”, warning that much more needs to be done to protect junior staff.

The national report, which is understood to have gone through several edited versions and is marked commercially sensitive, was not due to be released until The Independent obtained the document through a freedom of information request.

It found an “undercurrent” of bullying in some areas, with examples of students leaving their jobs as a result of inappropriate behaviour.

Trainees reported feeling undervalued and unwanted while on the job, with one apparently told: “Your concerns don’t matter – we have to meet patient demands.”

Ambulance handover delays have also led to student paramedics having less experience and training on the job, prompting fears that newly qualified paramedics do not have sufficient levels of experience in life-critical situations.

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Source: The Independent, 19 March 2024


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