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29 January 2019 | Comment |

Health Board’s handling of allegations made against Kris Wade

It has now been reported that the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board failed to treat the allegations of sexual assault on the part of Kris Wade with the seriousness that they deserved. Had the Heath Board investigated the allegations then maybe he would not have been in a position to sexually assault vulnerable patients, let alone go on and murder his neighbour. Wade killed Christine James in her flat, in Cardiff Bay on 2March 2016.

It is extraordinary that senior Health Board members knew of the allegations yet they failed to address them at a board level. This is a damning indictment on how the NHS functions at senior levels. It is of considerable concern that in spite of the failings in the Wade case governance, that there are still gaps in safeguarding procedures. All users of the NHS, and not just vulnerable patients, are entitled to expect that safeguarding is taken seriously and is implemented to the letter.

The report is, of course, welcome because it confirms that victims and their families were not taken seriously and, there is a natural concern that they were not believed. The report does not address why the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) did not prosecute Wade in the light of three separate sets of allegations. The facts and history do not sit easily with the CPS opinion that there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute Wade, and begs the question, how much evidence would have been needed?

The concern remains therefore that vulnerable patients remain at risk because of poor governance and inadequate safeguarding practices, and the challenge for the Welsh government is not simply to embrace the report with warm words but to demonstrate by actions, how the failings in attitude and management can be overcome?

This will mean not just the NHS in Wales being called upon to address the issues identified but for all agencies that work with vulnerable adults and children and that includes the police and CPS.

There still needs to be an inquiry to examine how and why Wade was never prosecuted? His victims were not best served by the justice system, they have never seen him held to account for the sexual offences he committed. There is much to learn from this case and not just for the NHS but all those who work with vulnerable adults and children. The Welsh government needs to demonstrate how the vulnerable are taken seriously if they have the misfortune of being assaulted. How will they be listened to, and what has the justice system learnt from the Wade case?

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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