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Campaign exposes sexual harassment faced by NHS nurses

Nurses' testimonies reveal rape threats, predatory line managers and misogynies as NHS staff share sex-based power imbalances on Surviving in Scrubs website
Harrassed nurse

Nurses' testimonies reveal rape threats, predatory line managers and misogynies as NHS staff share sex-based power imbalances on Surviving in Scrubs website

Nurses have revealed the scope of sexual threats and harassment they routinely endure at work, including predatory work colleagues and rape threats from patients.

Healthcare staff are being encouraged to share their personal stories ‘to give victims a voice’, as two doctors launch a campaign to raise awareness of misogyny and harassment in the NHS.

More than 100 women have already posted their stories on the Surviving in Scrubs website and

Nurses' testimonies reveal rape threats, predatory line managers and misogynies as NHS staff share sex-based power imbalances on Surviving in Scrubs website

Nurses' testimonies reveal rape threats, predatory line managers and misogynies as NHS staff share sex-based power imbalances on Surviving in Scrubs website
Picture: iStock

Nurses have revealed the scope of sexual threats and harassment they routinely endure at work, including predatory work colleagues and rape threats from patients.

Healthcare staff are being encouraged to share their personal stories ‘to give victims a voice’, as two doctors launch a campaign to raise awareness of misogyny and harassment in the NHS.

More than 100 women have already posted their stories on the Surviving in Scrubs website and Facebook page in a bid to shed a light on the ‘harmful and endemic culture’ in healthcare.

The website’s founders Becky Cox and Chelcie Jewitt are urging nurses to share their stories and hope they will create ‘a testimony that cannot be ignored’.

‘Appalling but not surprising’ testimonies reveal a narrative of misogyny

‘The stories we have heard so far are appalling, but sadly they are not surprising,’ said Dr Cox.

‘Almost everyone has a personal story, either from directly experiencing this type of behaviour or witnessing it.’

In one testimony, a nurse wrote: ‘In our hospital it is common knowledge that one of the male matrons makes sexual advances to female nurses more junior to him.

‘Many staff avoid leaving dos and Christmas parties because he is so much worse when he has had a drink.

‘If a nurse rejects his sexual advances, he targets her for months – or until she leaves; he criticises her work, spreads false information about her, publicly belittles her, denies her training opportunities and blocks any promotion prospects.’

Surviving in Scrubs aims to expose hierarchical power imbalance

Another nurse explained that during an interview for a senior nurse position she was asked whether she had a boyfriend or husband and whether she had ‘future plans’ to have children.

‘I didn’t know how to answer and said nothing,’ she said. ‘Would they have asked a man the same question?’

Dr Cox and Dr Jewitt who launched the campaign say this sort of behaviour is rife in workplaces and can be amplified due to the historical dominance of men in the NHS.

A 2021 survey by the British Medical Association found that 56% of women had experienced unwanted verbal comments relating to their sex at work.

Dr Cox added: ‘The NHS is an old institution and traditionally men were in the senior roles. That might not be the case so much now, but it has led to a hierarchical power imbalance that is tough to break.

‘We want to hear from nurses from all specialties, backgrounds and age groups so we can get a real picture of what is happening in healthcare.’

To submit your own experience go to the Surviving in Scrubs website.


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