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‘Disturbing’ findings show widespread NHS staff have experienced sexual assault at work

Vulgar new research has uncovered that NHS staff are being shown pornographic images and offered money for sex at work.

Conducted by Unison, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, the survey involved more than 12,200 nurses, ambulance workers, porters and cleaners. The findings, which were published on the first day of the union’s annual health conference in Brighton, found that 29% of workers reported being sexually assaulted at work, 50% said they had been leered or the target of suggestive gestures and 25% said they had experienced unwelcomed sexual advances or demands for sexual favours.

man in blue shirt wearing green helmet

Commenting on the unsettling research, RCN chief nurse professor, Nicola Ranger, said: ‘These figures paint an incredibly disturbing picture. Nursing staff should be able to come to work and expect the NHS to be a safe place – and not face the risk of assault, harassment, or abuse.

‘Employers must do all they can to protect staff as they do their jobs and create an environment where they can confidently report incidents and know they will be taken seriously, and all appropriate action will be taken. Otherwise, our health and care service will suffer the effects of even more nursing staff leaving the profession.

‘While there is no single short-term solution to tackling sexual harassment and abuse suffered by nursing staff, it’s imperative that any proposals are given proper resource to win the trust and confidence of the health and care workforce.’

According to the research, three-fifths of respondents who had experienced some form of harassment said comments that were passed off as ‘jokes’ or ‘banter’ were the most common issue.

Against this backdrop, half the staff who were involved in the survey said they hadn’t reported any incidents to their employer through fears they will be considered as ‘over-sensitive’ or a feeling that their employer wouldn’t act on their complaint.

Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, said: ‘No one should ever have to ensure such despicable behaviour, and certainly not in their place of work. But NHS staff often put up with this appalling abuse, not reporting it because they don’t believe they’ll be taken seriously. More must be done.’

Image: Irwan

More on this topic:

One in four NHS staff experience harassment

NHS urges sex crime and abuse victims to seek help

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