In this episode of #HJTalksAboutAbuse, the abuse team discuss the new data by the MET police that reveals the extent of sexual violence in London hospitals. This includes sexual abuse by patients, doctors, nurses and other staff members.
MET police have recorded 1,753 sexual offences in NHS hospitals between January 2019 and September 2022, 511 of these rapes.
None of these 511 rapes resulted in charge or summons (overall rate for rape charge is 2.7% in MET)
To note, this information did not break down where the sexual assaults actually took place within the hospital (e.g., wards, waiting room, toilets, car parks etc.), however previous findings show responses from 18 police forces that revealed that between Jan 2019 and September 2021, at least 633 sexual offences took place in hospital wards across England and Wales
During this time period, there were 36,879 mixed-sex accommodation breaches across the NHS. This does not include data from the period between March 2020 and October 2021, when reporting was suspended due to the pressures of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The findings also showed that there were more than 9,000 mixed sex accommodation breaches across the capital’s hospitals.
Issues of safeguarding – how are we vetting patients before they are on a mixed sex accommodation ward sharing with many other people?
Hospital says patient could not have been raped because alleged attacker was transgender – Scottish Daily Express – interesting article regarding rape by a transgender in hospital:
“A patient who was raped by a transgender woman on a hospital ward could not have been raped because her attacker is defined as a woman”, heard the House of Lords.
Police were told by hospital staff that the reported incident was not true, telling officers: “There was no male in the hospital, therefore the rape could not have happened.”’
Asked in this article – do NHS policies undermine the protection of women?
Sexual abuse by medical professionals – what should we expect in a medical setting?
When you go to the doctor, dentist, hospital or physical therapist, or see other medical professionals, you trust them to treat you with respect as they care for your health.
Sexual abuse by a medical professional is a serious violation of trust, medical ethics, and the law.
End the exam at any time. If anything about the exam makes you feel uncomfortable, you can let the person examining you know and they should stop right away.
Ask to have someone in the room. If you want to have someone else in the exam room with you, you can ask for a nurse, friend, or family member to stay with you.
Privacy. The exam should be in a private room or have a curtain drawn. You should also have a private place to change your clothes before and after the exam.
Undress to your comfort. You should only need to undress the parts of your body that are being examined, and you shouldn’t need to stay undressed for long before or after the exam.
Ask for an examiner of a different gender. You can ask to be seen by someone of another gender if that makes you more comfortable (but this might require picking a new doctor and might not be possible if it’s an emergency).
Have your questions answered. If you ask the person examining you about what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, they should answer you truthfully and right away.
Respect for your religion. You should be able to continue to wear religious jewelry or garments, unless they stop you from getting care.
Get information in the language you speak. Medical caregivers should make every effort to give you information in the language you speak. If they don’t speak your language, ask them to make arrangements to have someone interpret either on-site or through a language access line. You can also bring along a trusted friend or family member who can interpret for you.
Have your pain taken seriously. The person examining you should let you know if something will be painful. If you tell them it hurts and you want them to stop, they should stop right away.
Clearly, this is an area that deserves a lot more attention. Any one of us can find ourselves in hospital at any point and ensuring safety against sexual assault is vital and measures to resolve this from happening should be implemented immediately.