NHS England is urging healthcare providers including GP practices to sign up to its first-ever ‘sexual safety charter’, focused on stamping out harassment.
The aim of the charter, which has 10 pledges at its heart, is to eradicate sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by offering staff clear reporting mechanisms, training and support.
Under the plan, every NHS trust and local health system in England will have a domestic abuse and sexual violence lead to help both patients and staff to report incidents and get the help that they need.
Hundreds of female doctors and nurses exposed a culture of misogyny leading to the charter being put in place.
NHS England has itself signed up to the charter, with managers set to be held to greater account going forward.
NHS managers will also be given extra training in a drive to improve awareness and ensure allegations are appropriately investigated.
Sexual safety questions will also form part of the NHS staff survey covering all hospitals in England to keep an eye on progress.
Steve Russell, chief delivery officer at NHS England, said: ‘As the biggest employer in Europe, it is right that the NHS takes a lead role in tackling sexual misconduct, violence, harassment, or abuse in the workplace.
‘By signing up to this charter, NHS staff will now receive more support if they have suffered any form of misconduct, while workers will also receive further training so they can help colleagues and the patients they treat.
‘NHS England is encouraging all healthcare organisations to sign up to its new sexual safety charter to ensure that a zero-tolerance approach is taken across the health sector.’
Dr Binta Sultan, chair of NHS England’s National Clinical Network of Sexual Assault and Abuse Services, said: ‘This charter is the start of an important journey to wipe out unwanted, inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviour in healthcare environments, making them safe for all staff and patients, and while this can be difficult subject for some, we are extremely grateful to everyone who speaks up against abuse so we can stamp it out.’