The law should be changed to require all NHS staff and volunteers in contact with patients should be given a barring list check, the authors of an investigation into Jimmy Savile’s historic sexual abuse have said.
At a press conference this morning former barrister Kate Lampard, who led investigations into historic abuse at Leeds General Infirmary, Broadmoor Hospital and Stoke Mandeville Hospital, said: “Our investigations suggest there is very patchy management of volunteer schemes.
“We found some good practice and… some poor practice and some very weak management arrangements,” she said.
Some hospitals manage volunteer schemes at board level. However, the investigation team also found voluntary services that “did not appear to be strategically planned or led, and where the voluntary services manager worked in isolation with little or no connection to the wider management system of the hospital, and with little or no management or administrative support”.
The investigator’s report, published today, calls for legislation to be changed so that all hospital staff and volunteers that come into contact with patients or their visitors are subject to enhanced disclosure and barring service checks.
Ms Lampard said the training and retraining of staff and volunteers was essential to prevent future incidents of abuse.
The report’s authors found concerns about “limitations” on security checks for staff and volunteers in hospital settings when interviewing hospital staff.
The report states: “Most of those we interviewed who had experience of safeguarding issues told us of their concerns about the present limitations on barring lists checks for staff and volunteers working in NHS hospital settings and elsewhere and the risks this poses.”
Trusts should ensure that staff and volunteers undergo formal safeguarding training at least every three years, the report states. These should be carried out by trusts every three years.
The report’s authors recommend that the Department of Health and NHS England should establish a forum for voluntary services managers in the NHS where they can receive support, training and share best practice.
Trust human resources managers should have overall responsibility for contract and agency staff. The authors found that this varied between hospitals, with some contract staff managed by facilities departments.
They also found that staff who witnessed Savile’s abuse were “reluctant” to report it to senior staff.
While the report stateed that hospitals should try to “reduce opportunities for those without legitimate reasons from gaining access to wards and other clinical areas”, the authors said they recognised that “total restriction” across a hospital site is “neither desirable [nor] achievable”.
‘Weak’ leadership at Stoke Mandeville in Savile abuse era
In a separate report into the abuse carried out by Jimmy Savile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital between 1969 and 1992, investigators found there was 60 victims aged 8-40. The victims included patients, staff, visitors, volunteers and charity workers.
Lead investigator Androulla Johnstone said the leadership of the trust was “weak” and there was no oversight of the various hospital sites.
Savile worked as a voluntary porter at the hospital and was appointed with no checks or monitoring in place. He had access to the entire hospital site 24 hours a day.
Junior staff were annoyed and distressed by his “sexual innuendo” and “disruptive behaviour”. However, senior staff said he was an “important asset” to the hospital. The report states that senior staff did not seem to be aware of his actions.
It says: “It would appear that at no stage were senior managers made aware of either his sexual offending or his unsatisfactory portering performance and poor moral behaviour.”
Many of Savile’s victims were vulnerable because they were young or unwell. The abuse ranged from “inappropriate touching” to rape.
Although some victims told staff about the abuse, the investigation found that these reports were not taken seriously or escalated to senior management.