A ‘ZERO-TOLERANCE’ approach relating to inappropriate behaviour towards staff at Barnsley Hospital will be fully in force by the summer – after bosses signed up to an NHS charter to protect employees from abuse.
Signatories commit to enforcing a no-nonsense stance on any unwanted, inappropriate or harmful sexual-related behaviours within the workplace and to ten core principles and actions to help achieve it.
It is expected that the hospital will implement ten commitments – ranging from better reporting mechanisms to quicker support – by July 2024.
A hospital report said: “Those who work, train and learn within the healthcare system have the right to be safe and feel supported at work.
“Organisations across the healthcare system need to work together and individually to tackle unwanted, inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.
“We all have a responsibility to ourselves and our colleagues and must act if we witness these behaviours.
“These commitments will apply to everyone in our organisation equally.
“Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust aspires to be the best place to work.
“By signing up to the charter, we will demonstrate our commitment to tackling unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace.
“Where any of the commitments are not currently in place, we commit to work towards ensuring it is in place by July 2024.”
Latest Home Office crime figures show 101 assaults against workers have been recorded by South Yorkshire Police between March 2020 and the end of 2022, with 14.7 per cent of NHS staff saying they have endured at least one incident.
Of these assaults, 25 took place in 2022, and 44 the year before, with the remainder taking place from early 2020 onwards.
The 2018 Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill came into law, imposing a maximum prison sentence of one year – a sentence that was doubled in 2022.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers added: “Improving sexual safety in the workplace requires the collective efforts of all parts of the sector.
“NHS Employers is supporting the charter as it is an important step forward in making a positive change for all of those working in the NHS.
“We will work with our members and trade union colleagues to support action to ensure reporting and addressing sexual harassment and misogyny.”
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.
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.
Steve Russell, chief delivery officer at NHS England said: “As the biggest employer in Europe, it is right that the NHS takes a lead role in tackling sexual misconduct, violence, harassment, or abuse in the workplace.
“By signing up to this charter, NHS staff will now receive more support if they have suffered any form of misconduct, while workers will also receive further training so they can help colleagues and the patients they treat.
“We are encouraging all healthcare organisations to sign up to its new sexual safety charter to ensure that a zero-tolerance approach is taken across the health sector.”