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Nurses 'warned children about Savile'

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.”

Readers' comments (44)

  • Any nurse who makes such allegations (which may well be true) needs to ask herself (or himself) whether they complied with their then Code of Practice by drawing their concerns to the attention of appropriate persons.

    If they did what was done about those concerns?

    If nothing was done why were those concerns not taken further - anonymously if necessary - to more senior management or to the regulator of the time if there was one.

    If they didnt raise those concerns - and it sounds as if they should have been raised collectively as well as individually - then they were in breach of their Code and their duty of care to the children in their care. And so were their managers if they didn't take the concerns seriously.

    Raising such concerns cannot be the preserve of the odd brave soul but is the responsibility of every registered nurse (and doctor). It is no good complaining that too few people spoke out effectively at Mid Staffs Hospital if the same thing is happening elsewhere.

    It is time this message was thoroughly embedded into the training and practice of every health professional not just those with the courage to raise concerns.

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  • Well said Roger. I thought I was going to be a lone heretic on this, it looks like I was wrong.

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  • I can only agree with Mr Kline.
    Not only did these nurses have a duty of care but what about the moral obligation we have as human beings to our children.
    And in response to Mrs Thorton, yes you may have been recovering from surgery but you still had a voice,you could have told someone!
    I personally would find it very difficult to look myself in the mirror each day had I seen such a thing and not said a word to anybody!

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  • The Francis report on Mid Staffordshire will rightly talk about the climate of fear and bullying that is so widespread in health and social care.

    It will rightly want to hold senior management to account.

    I know well, having represented several whistleblowers, and written extensively about it, the price that can be paid for speaking out, however professionally it is done.

    But we all have a responsibility to stand up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Professional bodies, trade unions and indeed employers should be working to give everyone the courage to do so, individually and collectively.

    We still have a long way to go I'm afraid.Let's hope the Francis Report makes it just that bit easier to do so.

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  • I am not surprised these nurses did not speak out given the corrupt culture of the NHS. I took part in a group grievance towards protecting patient care and our service. What a mistake the managers sought revenge leading us to do a group whistleblow which has resulted in me being victimised and having malicious and vexatious allegations levied against me resulting in the probability I will lose everything I have worked for over last 35 years. This all because I have had the courage to speak out. I would suggest no one speaks out until the culture undergoes radical change because there is no protection for whistleblowers despite peoples widely held beliefs that there is in reality you are shunned and left alone.

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  • michael stone

    Roger Kline is correct, but so is the Anonymous above.

    'Professional bodies, trade unions and indeed employers should be working to give everyone the courage to do so, individually and collectively.'

    Yes - although accusing a celebrity, with a reputation for charity work, would probably be difficult even if the procedures and protections for 'normal whistleblowing' were in place.

    It is, as many people point out, a 'culture thing' - you need 'good behaviour and an expectation of (suspected) bad behaviour being criticised' to be the culture - but you don't need immediate suspensions and lengthy NMC investigations, at the merest hint of something which might be bad behaviour. Getting the balance spot-on, is tricky.

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  • I simply cannot agree with your suggestion anonymous 11-Oct 2.47pm,that "no one speaks out until the culture undergoes radical change". Unless people speak out the culture will never change.
    You spoke out and the world should be grateful to people like you. You will not lose everything. You are morally and ethically intact and can rise above those who shun you.
    I spoke out and lost my job and marriage but I don't know how I would live with myself if I had kept my mouth shut.
    Management,HR and union conspired to get rid of me (done deal). I took out an ET claim but was paid a large sum of money to settle out of Tribunal (with gagging clause).
    An Independent Investigation of NHS Lothian in May 2012 found what I tried to disclose from 1996 onwards " an undermining,intimidating,demeaning,threatening and hostile working environment for some staff". That was without hearing the worst abuses, as those employees had been bullied out of the workforce.
    You can get support from Patients First.
    www,patientsfirst.co.uk or email patientsfirst@aol.com
    10 years ago i thought that I had lost everything, but in fact I gained strength and skills that I could never have foreseen.
    We must continue to ensure that the culture changes; otherwise no one is safe in the care of Health/Social Care.
    Kathleen White, Edinburgh

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  • Jimmy Saville walks into a public ward and in full view of someone [flat on her back] 'molests' a patient and everyone keeps quiet? sounds implausible even in a bullying culture. He was not a senior manager - he was a visitor - or voluntary porter, I would have thought management would have been more worried about it coming to light on their wards than they would have been about keeping quiet. You would expect there to have been an unwritten rule about his not being left alone if nothing else. Its far from clear about who the nurses at stoke mandeville were talking about when they said about who would be unlucky enough to go to his room - sounds more like one of the nurses and from all accounts he prefers people somewhat younger than a trained nurse. Having read a couple of books recently about people who were in stoke mandeville with spinal injuries it was obvious that Jimmy's visits were not looked forward to due to his annoying personality which would be enough for the nurses to suggest that patients pretended to be asleep. It has not surprised me to hear that Jimmy did abuse young vulnerable girls however I am not sure how helpful it is to read so much into every action he ever took - I feel it more likely that his 'charity persona' was the smokescreen he used to help keep him above suspicion when he was carrying out abuse in other situations. The nurse in this story was a patient at the time - surely she could have reported this incident without fear of reprisal - in fact how selfish for your first thought to be about yourself.

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  • Kathleen Wright the gagging clause is illegal. I have chosen to be anonymous because my case is ongoing and to speak would breach confidentiality at this time. I have always spoken out and refused to lower the standard of care I give to my patients however my experience now is to keep quiet. I say this with a heavy heart and it goes against everything I know and believe in but I have to protect the naive who are just starting their careers in the NHS. Don't believe the rhetoric trusts spout do your job the best you can on one to ones with your patients but keep your head down. The culture will never change because the lowly nurse speaks out this has been proved over and over.

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  • tinkerbell

    I was shocked by the recent revelations regarding jimmy savile. I grew up watching 'Jim'll fix it' believing he was a kind, caring person.

    I hope the stigma of speaking up and out for abused children is decreasing and that children are now being listened to.

    Sexual abusers and abusers in general sometimes gravitate to jobs where they have easy access to children and the vulnerable so they can abuse the power and trust invested in them.

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  • Was there a code of conduct then - I am unsure it all seems so long ago it must have been very different if no-one spoke out. Hard to imagine today. I also grew up watching him on TV Clunk Clik, Jim,ll Fix It and the image I had of him has been shattered. He must have seemed beyond reproach.

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  • Susan Markham

    This must have been the worst kept secret ever...

    I find the allegations against the Late Sir Jimmy Savile to be very disturbing, not because of the general “how could he do it? outcry from the general public but because of two pieces of (now) rather chilling information I heard some 27 years ago.

    At that time I was working outside of of NHS nursing as a Grade III residential social worker at an assessment and reception home for 14 young adults run by Kingston Council in Surrey. I lived in Twickenham, Middlesex actually (but not literally) on The Green.

    It was a Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1985 and all the residents and staff were away on a planned group holiday at Butlins. I was one of the staff left behind as a “skeleton” crew to maintain the building and the ongoing tasks.

    So was in the main office when a phone call came through from someone representing a charity which worked in conjunction with local authorities for good causes.

    Please believe me, these are only summations from a 20 minute conversation that took place nearly 30 years ago. Legally this is only hearsay...

    The caller identified himself as “Johnny Savile.” On the phone he sounded exactly like “Jimmy Savile” so I immediately said “Did you just say Jimmy Savile?” “NO” he replied firmly “I am Johnny Savile, Jimmy Savile’s older brother - nothing to do with him apart from the fact he’s related to me.”

    I said “Oh but so... I didn’t even realise.... He has an OLDER brother? Wow... so you both raise money for charity though...”

    “Yeah” he said “but you don’t dare compare me with him... he does it for his own personal reasons. I have raised more money than him, done more good with it and not sought the same publicity for doing it. He loves the fame and makes the most of it - I never even talk to the dirty little sh*t these days”

    He was very angry about his younger brother to say the least. I eventually calmed him down, told him that donations to Social Services homes were not within the remit of specific local establishments and advised him to contact Kingston Council HQ on Monday morning.

    After he had “vented” about what what was “yet another pleb” mistaking him for his brother we actually had quite a pleasant conversation about how he raised money for charities etc.

    So that was the first “information” that I now recall from that Saturday in 1985.

    The second was two days later. We used to drink at the pub across Twickenham Green call “The Prince Blucher” and we had an “adopted” 84-year old ‘grandad’ we used to sit and chat to about local history on most nights. George Kneller (a true Twickenham character) was his name if you must know - at the current rate he’s be about 112 years old and hardly likely to sue me for disclosing his name.

    That night I mentioned the phone conversation with “Jimmy Savile’s previously unknown older brother Johnny Savile” and George went seriously quiet on me. He ignored my ‘supposed’ revelation that “Jimmy” had relatives other than “The Duchess” and went on to another tack which I had never heard before... “You know that Jimmy Savile is a dirty old bastard don’t you? It’s been known for years... Why do you think he sits those young girls (on JIM’L’FIX IT) right in front of him on bean bags? So’s he can look up their skirts and work out which one he wants to “diddle” (George’s words not mine) later! Known it for years, he’s got history... a pervert.

    The conversation abruptly halted and the thread was neatly moved on by a young barmaid who had a cleavage that could stop a charging buffalo at 20 yards.

    It never came up in conversation again. I have never really thought of it much over the last 27 years until, obviously, now.

    I see lots of press being given to Sir Jimmy Savile’s nephew and his outrage at how his uncle’s legacy is being abused - if Johnny Savile is still alive (he’s be around 90 years old now) perhaps someone should ask him?

    Did I ever feel the need to report this stuff to the police? Of course not. A phone call from an angry and jealous older brother... just sibling rivalry. The testimony from an 84-year old drinking partner after four pints of Guinness? Hardly the sort of evidence I could rush down to Twickenham Police Station and make a formal complain with!

    So yes, it seems that this must have been the worst kept secret that everyone knew about.

    I do not feel guilty - how the heck would I know? Even back in the mid-80‘s (in my personal world) Jimmy Savile was a weird BBC fossil.


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  • Kathleen, Mike and "anonymous". In your own ways you are all right.

    Raising concerns is dangerous. The P)ublic Interest Disclsoure Act provides for compensation but does not provide protection.

    That doesnt make raising concerns impossible or the wrong thing to do. It does mean getting good advice on how to do so and recognising the risks.

    But the culture will only change when brave souls challenge it and trade unions, professional bodie, employerss and politicians are gradually pushed into doing the job that needs doing.

    What is the alternative?

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  • Jimy Saville was indeed a strange character, anyone who watched the Louis Theroux film of him can see that, however, just because he was a bit odd doesn't make him a paedophile. After the high-profile downfalls of the man who played Len Faiclough in corrie, Johnathan King and Gary Glitter, people who had been abused by them said so when they were alive and they could be prosecuted. Now we are meant to believe that Sir Jimmy molested young women up and down the country for 40 years and there was not one mention of it until after his death makes me, cynically, believe that it wouldn't have happened when he was alive because of the laws of libel and slander. To say that a presenter of 'Top of the Pops' was hidden from prosecution by the establishment because he raised millions of pounds for charity is excerable, as mentioned before, it didn't save Gary Glitter and he was a world famous rock star, not a DJ.
    If the former nurse did indeed see Jimmy molest a child whilst she was a patient ( surely they had separate adult and childrens wards in the 60's and 70's), then I am afraid she is as guilty and as culpable as anyone else in this sorry tale and she, unfortunately, has incriminated herself on television.
    The anecdotes on this site are just that, anecdotes. ' A mate of mine down the pub, blah-de-blah', believe me, when myself and my friends have a bevvy we make up all kinds of crap about who we like, ( Wayne Rooney and the rest of the Man Utd team are favourites) would I regurgitate it later as if by chance any of this bull came 'true' and pass it off as if I had pre-cognition? Maybe, but I doubt it.
    If true, then it is horrific, but show us the proof first before besmirching a dead mans previously good name, otherwise it's the equivalent of trolling.

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  • Susan Markham

    Yes RedPaddys12 you are right, let us not judge the man guilty before there is sufficient evidence to prove one way or another whether the charges are true or false.

    And yes, I do find it slightly distasteful that The Daily Mail seems to have used this story as a national campaign to beat nurses, the BBC and the NHS around the head with.

    “The anecdotes on this site are just that, anecdotes. ' A mate of mine down the pub, blah-de-blah', believe me, when myself and my friends have a bevvy we make up all kinds of crap “

    Once again RedPaddys12 you are right and I believe I mentioned in my original post that this was all hearsay and therefore not legally admissible in a UK court of law.

    But I stick by the first of the first part of my message that concerned my conversation with “Johnny Savile” in 1985 and I would be prepared to swear an affidavit to that effect to the Metropolitan Police. It may only be a small part in the jigsaw but if his older brother (who nobody seems to remember now) testified against him - then perhaps it might be important?

    I am just a Nurse - not a detective... so I am not really sure what bit’s of evidence or hearsay they might like to be presented with... all I wanted to do was present what I had heard 27 years ago and perhaps that might begin a process where we all could start to understand the claims of “I heard about it - but I never reported it!” inevitable DM shock-horror stories.

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  • Susan Markham
    So you will swear an affadavit that a man on the phone who sounded like Jimmy Saville and had a similar name said...did it never, ever occur to you that this man might have been pissed off with having the mickey taken out of him by people for years that he sounded like, and had the same name as Sir Jimmy, but in fact had never met him and didn't actually know him. Really, its just innuendo, like the rest of this sad tale. If what you say is true, then all you have is a tale of two brothers who had fallen out with one another, its you putting 2 and 2 together to make 5. As for your friend who called him a dirty old man in the pub, well, Sir Jimmy seemed to have a lot of 20 something girlfriends when well into his 60's, perhaps thats what he was alluding to. I'm sure that most of us would think the same of Rod Stewart, or Bruce Forsythe or Bernie Ecclestone or Peter Stringfellow, but to make the leap from liking young women to young children is a bit of a leap, dontcha think?
    If true, then yes, we can all burn effigies of him on bonfire night, but show me the proof!

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  • Susan Markham

    I stand by all my former statements and the commitments I made to them. I WILL swear an affidavit about my conversation with John Savile

    I divided my initial post into two parts. The phone conversation was the first part.

    The second part was a “hearsay” conversation in a pub which I pointed out would NOT be admissible in court.

    redpaddys12... I do not understand why you continue to merge/blur both the first and second parts into one issue unless it is to promote some secret personal agenda that you may have.

    Forget my meeting with George Kneller and his comments... Rub them out!

    I have given you a fairly detailed account of the 20 minute conversation as far as I can remember it... much like the young girls who have now come forward with their accounts of abuse.

    Freddy Starr said he had never met with Jimmy Savile or appeared in a TV programme with him... he said he had never met Karin Ward... until C4 dug up the evidence.

    Are you so easily dismissing my personal account (and my consequently my integrity as a nurse) of a conversation I had with “Johnny Savile’ just like Freddy Starr dismissed his meeting with Karen Ward?

    I reiterate that I had a 20 minute conversation with John Savile. I am not a fool. He was NOT Jimmy Savile... he referred to senior contacts at the Kingston Council by name and several charities which were not linked with Jimmy Savile.

    Let us put it like this way... I don’t need to prove myself to you or anybody else. If the Metropolitan Police need me to give evidence then I authorise the Nursing Times to release my personal details to any enquiring authority.






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  • Susan Markham
    Of course, you had the mans details who said he was John Saville. His birth certificate, which will prove that he had the same mother and father. Photographs of him and the young Jimmy dressed in wrestling gear. Just because someone tells you something, doesn't necessarily mean it is true, does it? I didn't say you didn't have the conversation, so therefore am not questioning your integrity as a nurse, am I, rather, questioning the integrity of the man who said to you ON THE PHONE that he was Jimmy Savilles brother.
    I did not merge or blurr the 2 aspects of a a conversation you had on the phone and in the pub, but you seem to think I am, please re-read my post, they are separate. Infact, don't bother, you seem to just make things up of the top of your head, so please, continue on.
    Finally, what is the secret personal agenda you allude to? Are you saying that I am somehow involved with these alleged abuses? You say that I was doubting YOUR personal integrity and then come out with this!
    There are laws against LIBEL in this country and you have just comitted this, and I will ask the Nursing Times to release your details to the police so that they can arrest you, and to the NMC for bringing the profession into disrepute.
    By the way, the number for Scotland Yard is Whitehall 1212.
    Lastly, just because Freddie Starr can't remember 1 girl on a TV show 40 years ago doesn't make him a paedophile either, you complain about the Daily Mail and then spout rubbish like this. FOR SHAME.

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  • Susan Markham
    English law allows actions for libel to be brought in the High Court for any published statements alleged to defame a named or identifiable individual or individuals in a manner that causes them loss in their trade or profession, or causes a reasonable person to think worse of them. Allowable defenses are justification (the truth of the statement), fair comment (whether the statement was a view that a reasonable person could have held), and privilege (whether the statements were made in Parliament or in court, or whether they were fair reports of allegations in the public interest).
    Please retract your despicable statement.

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  • Susan Markham

    Good luck with your obvious anger control issues redpaddys12 - I certainly do not want to be drawn into them.

    Take it or leave it I stand by what I stated in the first part of my initial post...

    And there I bid thee a fond farewell!

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