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Jimmy Savile inquiry prompts NHS safeguarding drive

Inquiry finds that staff were aware that Savile was a sexual predator but failed to act

NHS trusts across England have been ordered to draw up action plans within three months setting out how they to ensure patients are protected from potential sexual predators.

The move follows a report into the activities of the late DJ Jimmy Savile, who abused young people in hospitals and other care settings for decades.

The report's authors have recommended that celebrities visiting hospitals must be accompanied at all times and staff must be trained in safeguarding to prevent sexual predators like Savile from being able to commit abuse in the NHS again.

Savile
Savile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1973. Picture: Rex

Former barrister Kate Lampard was invited by health secretary Jeremy Hunt to look at NHS-wide procedures in light of investigations into Savile's activities at Leeds General Infirmary, Broadmoor and Stoke Mandeville hospitals.

Her report was published today along with the findings of an investigation into Savile's abuse of 63 people, including patients and staff, at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire between 1968 and 1992.

The Stoke Mandeville report, written by Androulla Johnstone with Christine Dent of the Health and Social Care Advisory Service, states that between 1972 and 1985 nine informal verbal reports were made about Savile's abuse by those he abused at Stoke Mandeville.

'It would appear that the nursing cohort of staff in each of the different departments just managed Savile and staff concerns in their own way,’ said Dr Johnstone. 'From what we can see, they did not escalate it up.'

The report by Ms Lampard describes Savile as 'an opportunistic predator'. The former DJ’s abuse of patients in a number of NHS settings ranged from inappropriate touching to rape.

Ms Lampard's report, co-authored with Ed Marsden, a managing partner in Verita, a firm experienced in public sector investigations, says all NHS trusts should ensure that staff and volunteers undergo refresher training in safeguarding at least every three years.

NHS organisations still face a challenge in empowering staff to raise concerns, according to the report. It says: 'People do not feel comfortable challenging those they see as in positions of authority and hierarchies within hospitals are a barrier to staff raising concerns.'

Common themes from the separate NHS investigations into Savile include the freedom he had to roam around hospitals; the lack of supervision of him as a volunteer; and the failure of hospitals to keep patients, visitors and staff safe from his abuses, according to the report.

It makes recommendations on improving the management of volunteer schemes in the NHS and says there is a need for all NHS hospitals to have robust policies for managing visits by celebrities, including the need for them to be accompanied at all times.

At the launch of her report, Ms Lampard said: 'Preventing Savile-like cases depends on staff, patients, visitors, indeed each of us having the sense and the courage to fulfil our duty as citizens to speak up about matters of concern and challenge inappropriate behaviour.'

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