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Hundreds of abusive health workers able to work in NHS, warns regulator


There is a “real possibility” that hundreds of health staff who have abused patients are securing new jobs by concealing their past, according to a senior regulator.

Independent Safeguarding Authority chief executive officer Adrian McAllister issued the warning as figures showed only 5% of referrals to the body came from the NHS in 2010-11.

The ISA has the power to bar staff from working with children or vulnerable patients after investigating complaints made by employers.

In 2010-2011, the ISA received 5,361 allegations of physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse. This is in addition to cases where people were convicted of a serious offence and were automatically barred.

But only 229 came from the NHS. A King’s College London study examined rates of disciplinaries, dismissials and patient incidents across 14 trusts and concluded that 712 referrals should have been made across the NHS each year, based on these figures.

Mr McAllister said: “Without these referrals there is a real possibility that offenders are able to move to other posts and sectors only to abuse again.”

In contrast to the NHS, there were 2,186 referrals from the care sector, 945 from local authorities and 513 from the education sector last year.

The King’s College report said NHS workers were “apparently not disciplined appropriately” and “harm is apparently not dealt [with] appropriately by the NHS”.

This could be because the “no blame culture” has “gone too far”, it said.

In addition, it suggested that a predominantly caring and close working team of professionals did not want to “think negatively” about colleagues.

But the Council for Healthcare Excellence has also previously highlighted shortcomings with ISA’s processes, including warning that little information about referrals is shared with employers. Council for Healthcare Excellence chief executive Harry Cayton told Nursing Times ISA guidance was still “not sufficiently clear or understood”.


Readers' comments (7)

  • should have been made across the NHS each year - what the hell does that mean?
    Are they just inventing things now?

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  • Bull. Prove it. I would like to see the actual evidence for this. This is just scaremongering.

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  • Sorry if I'm being a bit dim - but surely references are taken up and CRB checks done prior to appointment.

    I'm not usually into conspiracy theories but all this negative stuff in the Media about Health Care workers at a time when we are being pro active about our pensions - anyone else think this is more than a coincidence?

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  • Anonymous | 15-Nov-2011 5:26 pm

    Couldn't agree with you more.

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  • In my experience the disciplinary procedure is rarely carried out appropriately. As a result of this I am often astounded that poorly performing health care professionals are allowed to continue in post. The disciplinary process necessitates a great deal of work in order to monitor, investigate, document and give the individual the opportunity to improve and defend themselves. Some individuals find criticism hard to take and simply move on. When references are taken up if the individual was never taken through the disciplinary process poor behaviour can not therefore be referenced.

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  • it is strange surely, that healthcare workers are being targeted in the Media for negative behaviours at a time when we are fighting for our rights; I know this stuff sells newspapers but how about a bit of balanced reportage - something the less 'tacky' non-tabloid media used to be able to manage!

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  • Does this organisation operate throughout the UK or only England? What point are they making exactly? "improve your performance by clobbering more NHS frontline staff"??

    No one want "abusive" people to work with vulnerable people but in this age where you can't move without CRB/PVG check and a minimum of 2 references being taken up the notion of having an acceptable quota of persons being referred for abuse is downright perverse.

    If ever there was an indicator that the "protection of vulnerable persons" industry had become an out of control juggernaut it is the statement by Mr McAllister and his twopence halfpenny report.

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