All NHS hospitals and other providers have been told to review their approach to giving celebrities access to patients – and other safeguarding issues – in light of the allegations about Jimmy Savile.
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson wrote to all trusts and foundation trusts last night. It follows allegations that Mr Savile, who is accused of child abuse, was given inappropriate access to young patients at some hospitals. He was a leading and prominent fundraiser at the hospitals.
Sir David’s letter, seen by HSJ, says: “You will all have seen the recent media coverage of the allegations of abuse involving Jimmy Savile. These are appalling allegations and it is deeply disturbing to think that abuses of this nature may have occurred in NHS organisations.”
It says several NHS reviews are already ongoing but adds: “I would ask that you take the opportunity to review, with your boards, and working as necessary with local agencies, your own arrangements and practices relating to vulnerable people, particularly in relation to: safeguarding; access to patients (including that afforded volunteers or celebrities); and listening to and acting on patient concerns.
“While the nature of protection for children and young people in the NHS is far in advance of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s, we must be absolutely sure that all our existing NHS procedures are robust.”
It says the three organisations concerned - Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary and West London Mental Health Trust – are already working with police and undertaking their own reviews, as is the Department of Health in relation to its role in relation to Broadmoor Hospital.
Meanwhile, a DH-commissioned review, led by NHS South of England vice chair and barrister Kate Lampard, is looking at NHS-wide approaches today.
HSJ is specifically interested in hearing from readers who have concerns or comments around the issues in this story.