To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 13 September 2023 to Question 198541 on NHS Trusts: Sexual Offences, for how long it has been a requirement that NHS organisations should have a policy on sexual misconduct; and what steps his Department takes to enforce this requirement.
All National Health Service organisations have a statutory duty of care to look after the health, safety, and wellbeing of their staff. As such, they are required to protect staff from sexual assault and harassment and to have appropriate policies in place to deal with such issues.
On 23 June 2023, the Chief Delivery Officer of NHS England Steve Russell wrote to Chief Executives of all trusts and integrated care boards about sexual safety of NHS staff and patients. He asked them to appoint a Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Lead and to review associated policies to support staff and patients who experience sexual assault and harassment. He said consideration should also be given to having a dedicated sexual safety policy. A copy of the letter is available at the following link:
On 4 September 2023, NHS England launched the health service’s first sexual safety charter for those who work, train, and learn within the healthcare system. The charter is an agreement comprising of 10 pledges, including commitments to provide staff with clear reporting mechanisms, training, and support from managers. Organisations signing up to the charter commit to taking and enforcing a zero-tolerance approach to any form of sexual misconduct in the workplace, with a commitment to implement the pledges by July 2024.
The Care Quality Commission uses its well-led framework to assess leadership, management, and governance in NHS organisations. It can take enforcement action, including in cases where relevant regulations are not complied with.