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NHS launches first-ever sexual safety charter to help protect staff

More support will be provided to NHS staff who have suffered harassment or inappropriate behaviour, thanks to a first of its kind sexual safety charter

The charter is an agreement with 10 pledges including commitments to provide staff with clear reporting mechanisms, training, and support.

NHS chiefs are calling on organisations across the health sector including royal colleges to sign up to the framework to eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace.

As part of the major new action, every NHS trust and local health system in England will also have a domestic abuse and sexual violence lead to support patients and staff to report incidents and access support.

‘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,’ said Dr Binta Sultan, Chair of NHS England’s National Clinical Network of Sexual Assault and Abuse Services.

‘Signing up to this charter shows how committed NHS England and other healthcare organisations are to supporting those under their responsibility, where leaders will be supported to take charge and act upon signs of abuse, signposting to the appropriate support networks.’

NHS England is creating gold-standard policies and support for local hospitals and health systems to use to address incidents of sexual misconduct.

By signing up to the charter, NHS managers will receive extra training to improve awareness and ensure allegations are appropriately investigated.

The NHS staff survey covering all hospitals in England will also now include questions around sexual safety so the health service can monitor progress.

 ‘Improving sexual safety in the workplace requires the collective efforts of all parts of the sector. NHS Employers is supporting the charter developed by NHS England as an important step forward in making a positive change for all of those working in the NHS,’ said Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers.

‘We will work with our members and trade union colleagues to support action to ensure reporting and addressing sexual harassment and misogyny’.