New research published by JRSM Open, the open access companion journal to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, reported that only one NHS Trust in England offers standalone training on sexual harassment intervention. Here one of the study authors, Dr Sarah Steele of the University of Cambridge, calls for immediate, active intervention to address the pervasive issue of sexual misconduct in the NHS.
The NHS has an alarming prevalence of sexual misconduct cases, encompassing a range of troubling incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape.(1) A recent investigation identified 35,606 such incidents recorded by NHS trusts in the past five years.(2) Yet, these figures seem questionably low considering the size of the NHS workforce and its patient populations. Self-reporting surveys suggest around 8.1% of healthcare staff alone have experienced sexual harassment in the last year while at work.(3) With sexual misconduct affecting an individual’s physical and mental health, while also significantly impacting workplace morale, staff retention, and patient care, the issue is pressing. Added to this, NHS Resolution reports GBP£4,020,231 was paid out for sexual misconduct between 2018-2022,(4) suggesting misconduct is also diverting critical NHS resources. Consequently, there are growing calls for an independent inquiry into sexual misconduct within the NHS. (5)