Nurses advised young patients to “pretend to be asleep” when Sir Jimmy Savile was visiting their hospital, it has been claimed.
Allegations of child abuse against the late radio DJ and TV presenter initially centred on his time at the BBC. However, new claims have been made concerning the two hospitals where he worked as a volunteer and visited regularly due to his involvement in charity fundraising.
A former patient at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire told the BBC News on Wednesday night there was an “air of resignation” among nursing staff ahead of a visit by Sir Jimmy, who had the free use of an on-site flat there.
Rebecca Owen told the programme: “There was some sort of ironic chatter between the nurses about who would be the lucky one to go off to his room.
“And then, as one of the nurses was leaving or passing by my bed, she leant over and said the best thing you can do is stay in bed until he’s gone and pretend to be asleep.”
A second former patient at Stoke Mandeville, calling herself Laura, phoned BBC Radio 5 Live and told the programme she had heard nurses say Sir Jimmy took girls to his “little room” inside the hospital after he carried out what were referred to as “ward rounds”.
She said: “There was chatter and miserable faces about the fact that Jimmy Savile was due to do what they called his particular ward round that day, and they were talking to themselves about which one would be, as they put it, ‘the chosen one’ to go off with him to his little room.”
Meanwhile, a former nurse told Sky News that she had seen Sir Jimmy molest a child at Leeds General Infirmary.
June Thornton, who was recovering from an operation at the hospital when she witnessed the alleged incident, said: “She had brain damage and Jimmy Savile came in and kissed her.
“I thought at the time that he was a relative. Then he started kissing her neck and running his hands up and down her arms and then started to molest her. Because I was laid flat on my back, there was nothing I could do about it.”
A spokesman from Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust said: “We are shocked at the nature and extent of the very serious allegations made against Jimmy Savile which were revealed by the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday. We have made contact with the police and they will be meeting with us to discuss their investigation.”
He added: “The trust does not have any record of complaints about Jimmy Savile’s behaviour made during the time he was a volunteer and charity supporter at Leeds General Infirmary or at any of our other hospitals.
“As a result of the TV documentary and subsequent media publicity we have, however, been contacted by two individuals, one of whom wishes to remain anonymous, about incidents said to have occurred in the 1970s.”
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Stoke Mandeville Hospital, also said it was “shocked” over allegations that Sir Jimmy Savile abused children while volunteering there.
Sir Jimmy was a high profile fundraiser for the National Spinal Injuries Centre and also volunteered as a hospital porter.
Allegations that he abused patients surfaced after a documentary about his serial molestation of under age girls screened by ITV last week. Police have since said that they have gathered information suggesting abuse on a “national scale”.
In a statement, the trust said: “Buckinghamshire Healthcare is shocked to hear of the allegations about Jimmy Savile.
“We are unaware of any record or reports of inappropriate behaviour of this nature during Jimmy’s work with the trust.
“We can confirm that the police have contacted us this week as part of their assessment exercise and we are co-operating with them fully.”
A trust spokesman said it has received no formal request for information, and had no record of either formal or informal complaints about Sir Jimmy’s conduct.
A spokeswoman for the Nursing and Midwifery Council said any failure by nurses to report abuse by Mr Savile would need to be judged against the rules governing the profession when it occurred.
The NMC was established in 2002 when it took over from the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting. However, the UKCC itself was only created in 1983 and replaced nine separate nursing regulators.
The spokeswoman said: “Although we cannot comment on individual cases, if we receive a referral about the actions of a nurse before the NMC came into existence we would first look to see if they are currently registered with us.
“If they are currently registered with us the referral would proceed through our normal investigations process, but any judgement on their fitness to practise would be made in line with the rules and guidance laid out for nurses at the time the allegations took place.”
She added: “If they are no longer a registered nurse we would be unable to take any action.”