The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has become the latest organisation to sign an NHS workplace charter that aims to help eradicate sexual misconduct within the healthcare system.
In signing the charter, which was recently launched by NHS England, the RCN commits to ensuring a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviours in the workplace.
And it joins other royal colleges representing GPs, anaesthetists, psychiatrists and surgeons, and obstetricians and gynaecologists in doing so.
Nicola Ranger, RCN chief nursing officer, said: ‘The RCN is serious about tackling sexual misconduct.
‘Everyone in every workplace has a responsibility to help create a culture where this behaviour is never accepted.’
She added: ‘As an organisation, we are taking action to empower witnesses and victims, ensure that reports are taken seriously, and perpetrators face appropriate consequences. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their place of work.’
The charter includes 10 pledges including: creating a transparent workplaces culture, clear organisational standards of behaviour, clear policies, training, and reporting mechanisms.
The RCN said that by signing the charter it commits to ensuring all 10 principles are in place by July 2024.
The move from the RCN follows damning evidence of an independent investigation by Bruce Carr QC which revealed the college’s annual congress had an ‘inappropriate sexual culture’ and was ‘seen by many as an opportunity to engage in sexual activity’.
In 2021, the RCN Congress was moved online following ‘serious allegations of sexual harassment’.
The RCN said that the pledge to join the sexual safety charter would build on work already in place to act on the findings of the independent review which was published last year.
The NHS charter itself was also released days before the damning reports of sexual harassment and assault among surgeons were made public.