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14 April 2023 | Podcasts | Article by Alan Collins

Sexual abuse incidents in children hospital units


In this week’s episode of HJ Talks About Abuse, the team discuss the disturbing amount of sexual abuse incidents in various children hospital units. Over a thousand incidents have been recorded over 4 years, according to NHS statistics.

Sexual abuse incidents in children hospital units Sexual abuse incidents in children hospital units Sexual abuse incidents in children hospital units

In 2020, the Care Quality Commission warned that “sexual incidents are commonplace on mental health wards”.

A single children’s mental health hospital, Taplow Manor Hospital in Huntercombe’s Maidenhead with just 59 beds reported more than 1,600 “sexual safety incidents” in four years, shocking NHS figures reveal. ‘Sexual incidents’ ranged from sexualised comments to rape.

Despite warnings being sent to the health service at a rate of more than one a day since 2019 – a total of 1,643 sexual incident reports – and no action was taken to stop vulnerable NHS patients being sent to this unit.

The private unit is now finally due to be closed after an investigation by The Independent revealed allegations of verbal and physical abuse, prompting the NHS to withdraw patients. The hospital has since said it plans to reopen as an adult unit.

A Taplow Manor Patient’s Story

A patient at Taplow Manor claims she was abused and repeatedly raped as a child by a member of staff at a private CAMHS unit 20 years ago.

She said the sexual abuse that occurred was like a sort of open secret, and there was a huge culture of blaming patients as if they were fallen, worthless people. They added that staff would blame it on the patients calling them mad, as if it must have been their fault because of that and so they were sexually unboundaried.

An NHS England spokesperson said:

“Sexual misconduct, violence, harassment and abuse are criminal acts; all NHS organisations must have robust measures in place to ensure immediate action is taken in any cases reported to them, and this requirement applies equally to independent facilities providing services on behalf of the NHS.”

Mandatory Reporting is important to ensure sexual abuse in institutions such as these is always reported. This in turn could solve a huge part of the problem by preventing and stopping any further abuse from happening again.

We see the experiences and successes of other countries where mandatory reporting legislation exists and it has a positive impact on preventing and stopping sexual abuse from happening, and so we should learn from this.

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at [email protected] or Danielle Vincent at [email protected]

Author bio

Alan Collins is one of the best known and most experienced solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals.  Alan has represented interested parties before public inquiries including the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse).

Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

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