of patients described as “truly shocking”
by Angela Hussain
19 alleged rapes of patients in NHS mental health settings between
2003 and 2005 have been described as "scandalous” and
“truly shocking” by mental health charities.
Eleven of the 19 alleged rapes reported this week by the government’s
National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) were allegedly by staff.
The NPSA, set up in 2001, monitors patient safety in the NHS. It
collates its information from a number of official sources.
new report into mental health NHS services states that from November
2003 to September 2005 there were 122 reported sexual incidents,
including 19 alleged rapes and 20 reports of consensual sex. There
were 13 cases of exposure, 18 of sexual advance and 26 of touching.
However, the NPSA admits the likelihood that there has been “significant
under-reporting” of patient harm.
The NPSA states the NHS has received three claims for compensation
following unwanted pregnancies.
The report's findings were described as “truly shocking”
by Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind.
McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, described
them as "scandalous". "If a woman went into hospital
for a heart operation and was raped during her stay, it would be
a national scandal." he said
"Women who are raped while in mental health services are simply
not believed. People with mental health problems are treated as
second class citizens."
In total, the NPSA report gave around 44,000 reported harmful incidents
in NHS mental health settings, mostly inpatient units. Most incidents
(34.7%) were due to patient accidents, while 23% were related to
disruptive or aggressive behaviour, 17% due to self-harm. Just 1.2%
of incidents were related to abuse (including sexual abuse) of patients.
The response of mental health trusts to these incidents was “varied”,
stated the report, entitled "With safety in mind: mental health
services and patient safety".
Responding to the report, the National Director for Mental Health,
Professor Louis Appleby, said there will be an inquiry into the
most serious sexual allegations. Every mental health trust will
also be asked to review their procedures to ensure that they have
in place measures to protect the sexual safety of inpatients, he
"Although the vast majority of NHS patients receive safe and
effective care, any incident where the safety of a patient is compromised
is one incident too many," Prof Appleby told the Times newspaper.
must investigate and learn from all these incidents, so that we
can make systems safer and more reliable in preventing harm,"
The NPSA report did not reveal how many of the reported incidents
occurred in mixed-sex settings. Although the health minister, Rosie
Winterton, has said that 99 per cent of NHS trusts provided single
sex wards for psychiatric inpatients, mental health charities strongly
Mr Farmer said: "We urgently need an audit of the implementation
of single-sex wards. Service users are consistently telling Mind
that government claims are not the reality."
Tim Loughton, the Tory health spokesman, this week told Ms Winterton
in the House of Commons: "No-one who has visited a mental hospital
remotely believes your assertion that 99 per cent of them offer
only single sex wards. A flimsy curtain across a ward does not constitute
a single sex ward."
The National Patient Safety Agency's
"With safety in mind: mental health services and patient safety"
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