Image a person signing a contract depicting the NHS sexual safety charter

Women leaders network urges NHS chairs & CEOs to sign new sexual safety charter

Healthcare chairs and chief executives have been urged to sign up to the recently published sexual safety charter in a new letter from the NHS Confederation.

NHS England launched the first-of-its-kind sexual safety charter last month and in it laid out a number of changes that would aim to protect staff and curb inappropriate behaviour.

The sexual safety charter features 10 pledges which include commitments to give staff more support, better training and robust reporting mechanisms. The letter highlights the London Ambulance Service as an excellent example of where the charter’s work is being pioneered.

The letter was specifically written by the NHS Confederation’s health and care women leaders network and has been co-signed by members of the network’s guiding group, which – among others – includes NHS Providers’ deputy chief executive, Saffron Cordery, and England’s first ever patient safety commissioner, Dr Henrietta Hughes.

“Enough is enough!”

“No longer can we sit idly by feeling appalled by the stories we hear or see but do nothing,” reads the letter. “We would not want this for any of our families and therefore we should not accept it for any member of staff.”

The letter also shares a blog written by Dr Kathy McLean, who is the chair of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust – and a member of the guiding group.

Dr McLean brands NHS England’s pledge as “more than just a charter” and in fact signals the need for a fundamental shift in behaviours within the health service.

The NHS sexual safety charter itself followed a move from the General Medical Council that saw the first major update to its Good medical practice standards in a decade. The new standards explicitly dictate that doctors must not act in a sexual way towards colleagues.

That guidance comes into effect 30 January 2024 and will apply to all doctors on the UK medical register.

To read the full letter, click here.

Image credit: iStock

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