The Big Question

Should more be done to clamp down on sexual abuse in psychiatric wards?

Len Smith – Gypsy activist
Offences should never go unchecked. Whether by staff or other patients, the strongest possible action needs to follow. Obviously, patients who offend will need evaluated treatment as much as some form of retribution. Staff should face instance dismissal and prosecution. The only arena for enquiry in staff cases is the courts.

Eve Rank – Inspired Services
It’s about having safeguards in place. Proper police checks should always be carried out on staff for a start. There is also an issue about patients abusing each other – you mustn’t lock up abusers with vulnerable people. People need to be kept as safe as possible, but without traipsing over their rights. We must also ensure that they have full access to the justice system.

Angie Lawrence – Single mother
Despite a £600m increase in spending on mental health care since 2000, there are still major abuse problems in institutions. Not enough of this funding has been spent addressing this. High levels of patient-on-patient abuse also suggest that patients are poorly protected. The solution lies with the management of staffing standards.

Jaya Kathrecha – Carer
I was told about a woman who was sexually assaulted by another patient. Staff were aware of this but the director of the facility denied such things happened. Attitudes like that make people frightened to report incidents. Mixed sex wards should be abolished, there should be more effective complaints procedures and better external scrutiny.

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