Sexual assault of older people by hospital staff in England
The Journal of Adult Protection
Article publication date: 8 February 2022
Issue publication date: 23 February 2022
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the findings of this research. A research paper was published in October 2021 highlighting results of freedom of information (FOI) requests sent to National Health Service (NHS) Trusts in England. The FOI requests asked for the number of incidents of sexual assault reported by hospitals where the victim was aged over 60 and the alleged perpetrator was a member of staff.
The methodology involved sending FOI requests to all 206 NHS hospital Trusts in England requesting information on reported incidents of sexual assault against patients over 60 years old from 2016/17 to 20/21, where the alleged perpetrator was a member of staff (including agency staff). Along with the number of reports, the FOI request also asked for the sex of the victim and alleged perpetrator, whether the incident was reported to police, the outcome of the police investigation and whether any internal disciplinary processes were followed.
Of the hospitals that responded with some data (others were nil return), 56 individual reports meeting the criteria of the FOI were identified. A further 19 hospitals advised that they held reports of such incidents but, under general data protection regulations, they were unable to disclose exact numbers, but they were less than 5, some hospitals said less than 10, so the research can only count one for each of these. The resulting findings are that there were at least 75 reports of sexual assault on patients over 60 by hospital staff in the past five years. The findings also show that whilst the majority of victims were female, 30% were male and that a disappointing number were reported to police – only 16. Of these, 14 were closed as “No Further Action” by the police.
Whilst there has been some research into sexual violence against older people, most notably by Dr Hannah Bows, the issue of sexual assault happening whilst in hospital perpetrated by hospital staff has not been studied.
Warburton-Wynn, A. (2022), "Sexual assault of older people by hospital staff in England", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 54-56. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-11-2021-0040
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