‘Stoke Mandeville Hospital still putting children at risk of abuse’

The entrance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital
The entrance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Stoke Mandeville Hospital’s child protection procedures are too vague and put youngsters at risk, according to a campaign group.

Mandate Now claims Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust has not learnt enough from the Jimmy Savile and Michael Salmon sex abuse scandals at the hospital.

The group, which wants a new law obligating staff in positions of trust to report concerns about children’s welfare to the authorities, labelled the hospital’s current safeguarding policy as ‘inadequate’.

It said the policy briefly mentions various safeguarding activities which ‘should’ – rather than ‘must’ – be carried out, but in most cases does not specify who should do them or describe a detailed procedure to be followed by specific members of staff. It says many other institutions which have had serious safeguarding failures have subsequently been found to have similarly ‘vague’ arrangements.

The trust also ‘fails to commit to refer all allegations to the local authority for independent assessment, and neither does it support staff who do report concerns who, in the absence of legislation, are defined as whistleblowers’.

A spokesman for the trust, which is due to publish its report into Jimmy Savile’s abuse later this month, said: “The Trust is committed to the wellbeing of all people using its services and takes its safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously.

“We have worked over a number of years to develop robust policies and procedures, which are underpinned by a culture in which staff are trained and encouraged to raise any concerns around safeguarding issues appropriately.

“We have strengthened our internal processes, for example, by introducing a comprehensive training strategy; by appointing named Safeguarding Leads within the Trust and through the launch of an awareness campaign to enable staff to ‘Speak Out Safely’.

“Externally, we work closely in partnership with other agencies to protect and prevent children and adults from harm. Last year, the Trust joined the Buckinghamshire Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which has been successful in forging stronger links amongst agencies to enable quicker information sharing and better informed decisions around safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults.

“We are never complacent and are always working to strengthen our approach. Our safeguarding policies and approach are regularly subjected to external scrutiny and there are a number of checks and balances in place to ensure they remain robust and relevant. Part of the remit of the independent investigation into the activities of Jimmy Savile at Stoke Mandeville Hospital includes a comprehensive review of current policies and procedures. The report is likely to be published this month.”

Mandate Now’s founder is Tom Perry, who was the first complainant in the Caldicott School child abuse scandal.