Rape Crisis England & Wales Calls for Public Inquiry into Sexual Abuse in Mental Health Wards

Rape Crisis England & Wales Calls for Public Inquiry into Sexual Abuse in Mental Health Wards

Recently, a Sky News investigation brought to light nearly 20,000 new complaints of sexual abuse, harassment, and rape in more than 30 mental health trusts in England since 2019. These disturbing findings have prompted Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCE) to call for a public inquiry into the issue, describing the situation as “appalling” and “alarming.”

In addition to the public inquiry, RCE is urging the government to appoint a minister responsible for the safety of women on mental health wards. They are also advocating for women-only wards and a provision that allows victims to give evidence. Chief Executive of RCE, Ciara Bergman, emphasized the need for major intervention and leadership to prevent sexual violence and abuse from being accepted as inevitable.

Despite previous reports and recommendations, such as the CQC report in 2018 on sexual safety, little progress has been made in addressing these safeguarding issues. The failure to enforce government-backed protections and the lack of clarity on the responsibility for sexual safety in mental health inpatient wards have contributed to the ongoing crisis.

The Department of Health and Social Care did not respond to the call for a public inquiry, but reiterated their zero-tolerance policy towards sexual assaults in NHS services. NHS England has also launched a national investigation into mental health inpatient settings to ensure safe and high-quality care for all patients.

In response to the findings, NHS has introduced the first NHS sexual safety charter, aiming to provide staff with reporting mechanisms, training, and support to tackle sexual misconduct. Over 250 organizations have already signed up for this initiative, signaling a collective effort towards a zero-tolerance approach.

The revelations from the Sky News investigation have shed light on a dark and distressing reality within mental health inpatient wards. The call for a public inquiry and government intervention is crucial to address the systemic issues and ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals in these settings. It is imperative that all stakeholders work together to implement lasting solutions and create a culture of respect and dignity within mental health services.

UK

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