• 20 June 2019
  • 3 min read

8% of NHS staff sexually harassed at work - report

  • Nurses news
    Nurses.co.uk editorial team

A report has found that 1 in 12 NHS staff have been victims of sexual harassment as extreme as rape.

A study has revealed that NHS staff have been victims of sexual harassment, groping, upskirting and rape by bosses, colleagues and even patients while at work, The Guardian reports.

Staff ranging from nurses, care assistants and administrative staff are ‘suffering mental trauma’ as a result, with some having to leave their job due to the crimes that have taken place.

These results are part of research published by Unison.

According to The Guardian, the union have urged ministers to overhaul the Equality Act 2010 so that employers would be held liable if incidents of sexual harassment take place at work but no actions were taken.

One incident that has been shared is that of a member of staff being upskirted by a colleague, who “accidentally” shared the photo with another colleague.

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A female victim who worked in an all-male team has told how she was regularly approached by a colleague who asked her to have “a one-night stand or a quickie”.

Another case was of a staff member who was sent nude images of colleagues who used a dating app called Grindr.

“Many nurses, cleaners and administrative workers feel they have to put up with appalling behaviour as nothing will be done. This is generally because the perpetrators are in a position of power or believe they are untouchable,” said Christina McAnea, Unison’s assistant general secretary.


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The study by Unison included 8,487 NHS staff across the UK in May 2019. 695 of the people who took part said they had been sexually harassed in the past 12 months - including 3 incidents of rape and a threat to rape.

Most of the offenders were colleagues (54%), however, 42% were patients. Most victims were female (82%).

The offenders were older than their victim (61%) and 37% held more authority in senior roles.

The Guardian reports that some victims self-harmed, had suicidal thoughts or ‘suffered a loss of confidence’ as a result.

Ruth May, NHS England’s chief nursing officer, said: “We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abuse, violence or harassment in the workplace and we will not stand for harassment or assault of any kind against NHS staff.

“Leaders of NHS organisations take these incidents seriously when they are reported, and we would want to provide the appropriate care and support to staff affected.”

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