Dozens of rapes and sexual assaults take place in hospitals every week, a damning report reveals today.
The official figures lay bare the horrific scale of abuse – with 6,500 attacks being reported in just three years.
They include gang rapes and assaults on children. The statistics are published today by the Women’s Rights Network whose founder Heather Binning said they were ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.
‘Hospitals are places where everyone – patients, staff and visitors – should feel completely safe but rapes and violent assaults are taking place in hospitals every week,’ she added.
‘The figures show hospitals are just not safe places. They are almost a market for sexual offenders. It’s absolutely terrifying.’
She said the sheer extent of the problem had echoes of the Jimmy Savile scandal and his abuse of patients at Stoke Mandeville.
The figures are based on freedom of information requests to police forces in England and Wales.
At least 2,088 rapes and 4,451 sexual assaults were reported between January 2019 and October 2022 – a rate of 33 a week. The data does not detail whether the offences were carried out at NHS or private facilities. But a shocking one in seven took place on hospital wards.
And just 4.1 per cent of the crimes resulted in the suspect facing a charge or summons.
Ms Binning claimed this ‘added to the horror’ and showed hospitals and police forces were failing to protect the vulnerable.
She said: ‘The police are not doing enough in terms of recording the crimes properly and pursuing them – these are places with CCTV and restricted access. Why is the charge rate so low?’
Her WRN group is calling on the NHS, the Care Quality Commission and police to acknowledge this ‘hidden domain of sexual violence’.
Ms Binning said: ‘These statistics are jaw-dropping. We began this investigation because of concerns about the safety of women and children on NHS wards, but we are horrified at what we have uncovered.
‘The volume of sexual assaults and rapes is even more horrific when you consider that this data covers the pandemic, when much of the country was in lockdown and hospitals were supposedly even more vigilant.’
Read More: ‘Hospitals have almost become markets for sex offenders’