Units should carry out sex abuse audits, psychiatrists urge

Psychiatric units should carry out regular audits of sexual behaviour, complaints and allegations of harassment or abuse psychiatrists are urging.

A Royal College of Psychiatrists’ guidance document on how to prevent sexual incidents either not being reported or hushed up follows a national report last year which documented 122 sexual incidents, including consensual sex, on psychiatric wards from November 2003 to September 2005.

The college’s guidance states all mental health units should have policies on acceptable sexual behaviour, harassment and abuse.

The college said it was “very likely” that sexual incidents were under reported.

In 2005 the Kerr Haslam inquiry reported on the cases of two consultant psychiatrists who indecently assaulted patients in their care. The abuse was left unreported for years.

A writer for Asylum mental health magazine has accused colleagues of the two psychiatrists of failing to act on reports that abuse had occurred.

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