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Six in 10 nurses sexually harassed at work, study shows
3 June 2021, 08:30
Six in 10 nurses have been sexually harassed by patients or colleagues at work, a new poll from union Unison has found.
The most common form of harassment was verbal, with 56 per cent of nurses saying they had been confronted with inappropriate jokes, comments about their appearance, invitations on a date or questions about their private lives.
Over a third reported physical advances too, with 37 per cent saying they received unwanted touching, hugging or kissing, or invasion of personal space.
Almost three fifths of those who reported that they had been harassed said it was by a patient, 26 per cent said it was a medical colleague and 24 per cent said it was a nursing colleague.
The survey of more than 2,000 nurses in the UK was carried out by the union Unison and the Nursing Times.
National women's officer at Unison, Josie Irwin, said: "Harassment of any form is simply wrong. Staff working in the NHS must be able to do their jobs without fear of unwanted attention, lewd remarks or being made to feel uncomfortable.
"Employers must do their utmost to protect nurses against sex pests, regardless of whether the culprit is a patient or colleague. This survey shows there's still much more to do."
One community nurse who took part in the survey said: "Sexual harassment needs to be viewed as a more serious offence than it currently is.
"The response I got from my manager and colleagues was, 'well, that's just part of the job'. It isn't. It's offensive and abusive and makes you feel scared to go to work."
Deputy chief nursing officer for England, Hilary Garratt, said: "It is completely unacceptable for any member of staff to be subjected to abuse or harassment or be made to feel uncomfortable while caring for patients and their families.
"The NHS is committed to creating a positive work environment and we would encourage all affected staff to speak up so that we can provide the support they need."