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Sexual assault at Wythenshawe Hospital

When you attend hospital as an inpatient, it's a place you should feel safe. Unfortunately, this was not the case for one of our clients.

04 February 2021

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In 2014, Tina* was sexually assaulted by a cleaner while recovering in a hospital bed still drowsy after having morphine. She was vulnerable and never expected to be taken advantage of, especially in a place of healing.

Tina was assaulted twice by the same cleaner over the course of her short hospital stay, even though she had reported the strange behaviour of this man a month before on another hospital visit.

Initially, the cleaner approached Tina and asked her if she had children and insinuated that she could have his children. He then kissed her arm and hand which left her feeling awkward at a time when she was extremely vulnerable. Later that day she was stood at the nurses' station when he asked her to meet him outside. Tina told a nurse what had happened and the nurse responded by saying “Yeah, he's like that with the staff too, he's a bit strange” but she was told the incident would be documented.

A few weeks later Tina was back in hospital. She had had a catheter fitted and was in a private room recovering from the morphine, when the cleaner came into the room and hugged her.

He later came into her room again with another man, put his arms around her and kissed her arm and neck, then laid his head on her chest.

Tina couldn't believe what was happening. She felt really vulnerable as the other man was stood at the door. Luckily a nurse came in and he stopped and left the room. At that point, the nurse told her to contact the police.

At that time, Tina was admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital regularly for an ongoing problem and would have intravenous antibiotics. Following the assaults, she would take oral antibiotics because she was too scared to go in hospital as an in-patient. However, this medication is not as strong, so it affected her health.

It also affected her social behaviour. Prior to the assaults, Tina described herself as 'bubbly', being from a large family. However, following the assaults she was extremely nervous. She was scared to go out and would only go to places like the supermarket when someone went with her.

Tina decided to speak out about the assaults so it would be a warning to others and contacted the specialist abuse team at Slater and Gordon to take civil action against Wythenshawe Hospital. Abuse lawyer, Kim Harrison represented Tina in her civil case and helped secure a five figure settlement for the trauma she suffered, which has made a big impact on her quality of life.

The cleaner was convicted of sexual assault and sent to prison for 18 months as well as ordered to sign the sex offender’s register for 10 years.

Tina was failed at so many levels, not only by the man who attacked her, but by the people she reported concerns to who failed to take adequate measures to protect her until after she’d been assaulted on more than one occasion. If her original concerns had been treated more seriously, then perhaps the further assaults could’ve been prevented.  This man should not have been allowed to behave so inappropriately and make this woman feel so uncomfortable and his behaviour should most certainly not have been brushed off as 'that's just what he's like'.

We understand how difficult it is to speak out about such horrific experiences, but our team have a vast amount of experience in representing those who have suffered sexual assault and can offer confidential advice. To talk to one of our specialists, simply contact us when you're ready to take the next step.

*Client’s name has been changed for the purpose of anonymity

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