Health board mishandled sexual assault allegations, review finds

  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
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Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) has published the findings of an independent investigation into the handling of sexual assault allegations by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU).

Between 2011 and 2013 three patients within the ABMU Learning Disability (LD) directorate made allegations of sexual abuse against staff member Kris Wade. He was suspended in 2012 following the allegations. In 2016, while the disciplinary process addressing the allegations was still underway, Wade was arrested and convicted of murder.

The HIW review has identified a number of shortcomings in the investigation of the original accusations.

The fact that the first allegation was not initially recognised as a “safeguarding incident” highlights the importance of listening to patients, the report states. It also identified a delay in removing Wade from clinical duties.

The review found progress on improving the governance and reporting structure within ABMU has been slow and says the governance structures within the health board relating to quality and safety are still not clear.

HIW also noted that a number of employees within the mental health and learning disability directorate, including Mr Wade, did not have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check because their employment pre-dated the requirement for those checks. The review said this is “an unacceptable safeguarding risk”.

“The weaknesses identified in the health board’s handling of this case strongly suggest that senior health board staff did not appreciate the seriousness or complexity of the allegations at the time,” the report states.

“Whilst we found the health board has made improvements to its governance arrangements following the Trusted to Care and desktop reviews, we are disappointed to find that significant work is still needed in this area to ensure there are robust systems to effectively identify areas of concern, manage risk and share learning across the health board,” HIW said.