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Hospital Rapes and Sexual Attacks

While traveling through London in a taxi last week [first published April 23rd 2023] I was listening to the radio. Parliament were discussing several issues and hospital rapes and sexual assaults came up. Without actually specifying the case they were alluding to the Jimmy Saville scandal at times. The data that has been released certainly has highlighted that this issue, despite the cover-up at the time and the public uproar since, hospitals are not safe places.

Alarmingly since 2019 there have been 6,500 rape and sex attacks - that includes gang rape and child assaults - in our hospitals during the past three years. These figures have been exposed in a report from the Women's Rights Network (WRN) and include horrific crimes faced by patients, staff, visitors and do include gang rapes. These statistics are based on freedom of information requests to the police forces in England and Wales.

Between January 2019 and October 2022 at least 2,088 rapes and 4,451 sexual assaults were reported. This is a rate of 33 per week. Shockinly one in seven had taken place on hospital wards.
Perhaps more shockingly are the statistics that show the rate of the suspects committing these crimes who faced charges or summons. The startling low rate of just 4.1 per cent of these crimes saw these perprotrators facing justice.

On a personal note, I worked in a forensic mental health unit in the past. This establishment existed solely because the institutions were closed due to the abuse that was embedded in the system - please tell me what has changed? We are living in a society where abuse is seen and not reported by the appropriate people. You cannot tell me that 33 attacks a week go unnoticed. That does not sit comfortably with me - someone must see something that doesn't sit right with them.
If these 33 cases that are reported are from those with the confidence to speak out, what about those who cannot talk about their experience? Those who don't understand what has happened? Those who are too young to know? Those who don't think they will be believed? Those who are too scared to speak up? I could continue!

These 33 cases per week cover the time period that we were in lockdown because of the pandemic. It startles me to consider what the next set of figures will be revealing - or was the fact that children over a certain age were not allowed their parents to accompany them in A&E and were taken advantage of? I guess time will tell if these numbers rise or fall. I personally know of a young child who wasn't allowed their parent in hospital when they had fractured a bone and they had to find their own way around each department (triage, xray, doctors, fracture clinic) on their own.

The report was written by Jo Phoenix who is a Reading University criminology professor. She says the findings showed that NHS trusts were 'failing in their duty to protect both patients and staff'.
WRN, in compiling their data requested freedom of information requests to 43 police forces, eight of which (including those in Scotland and Northern Ireland) were unable to provide the data.
Change is vital.
Donna Siggers