Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull statement on sexual harassment at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB)

October 19, 2023

Concerns around sexual harassment and the safety of staff were among the most serious issues raised in the recent reviews into University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB). Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull are clear that there must be zero tolerance of such behaviour. We therefore welcome UHB’s new sexual safety charter as an indication that the Trust has recognised the importance of the review findings and is taking solid steps to address unacceptable problems that have been uncovered.

Only when staff feel that their concerns will be heard and acted upon will they feel comfortable in coming forward. This is absolutely vital to changing the culture at UHB and thus ensuring that the staff can deliver the high quality care local people deserve. We are therefore encouraged to hear that UHB are now actively encouraging staff to report unacceptable behaviour and concerns.

The fact that this has now resulted in three members of staff have been dismissed following complaints about sexual harassment is not a cause for celebration however, given the serious effect on the lives and wellbeing of those that have suffered harassment. Healthwatch cannot comment on these specific cases, but in all incidences such as these the Trust’s focus must be on its duty of care and continued support for staff who have suffered any form of harassment and raised concerns, as much as disciplinary measures for perpetrators. We applaud the courage of those who have come forward, and hope that their bravery will encourage others suffering harassment to speak up so that such issues can be tackled and expunged from UHB and anywhere they occur in the NHS or elsewhere.

– Richard Burden, Chair, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull

* Image by Brian Clift, CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

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