Nearly 20,000 reports of sexual abuse in NHS-run mental health units in the past five years

28 January 2024, 23:22

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Nearly 20,000 reports of sexual abuse inside NHS-run mental health units have been filed in the last five years. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

Nearly 20,000 reports of sexual abuse inside NHS-run mental health units have been filed in the last five years.

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The Independent and Sky News have uncovered 19,899 sexual incidents reported across more than 30 NHS trusts between 2019 and November 2023 – including staff on patients abuse and patients assaulting others.

Just 982 of these reports were taken to the police - less than five percent of the total.

Read More: Urgent manhunt launched after woman in her 20s ‘raped in London alleyway’ as CCTV released of man sought by police

More than 800 allegations of rape and serious assaults on women were also recorded by the trusts.

Dr Lade Smith, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told reporters that the findings were “horrendous”, while shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said it was a “wake-up call” for the government.

Mixed sex wards are still in use despite being banned nearly a decade ago in NHS mental health care - and only six out of 50 hospitals were able to prove they were meeting NHS standards of sexual harm prevention.

Dr Smith told The Independent: “There is no place for sexual violence in society, which has a profound and long-lasting negative impact on people’s lives. Today’s horrendous findings show that there is still much to do to make sure that patients and staff in mental health trusts are protected from sexual harms at all times.

“It is deeply troubling to see that so few incidents in mental health settings go unreported.”

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