Savile’s offending in NHS ‘scarcely credible’
The story of Jimmy Savile‘s offending in NHS hospitals is unusual to the point of being scarcely credible. That is the opening line from Kate Lampard, the author of the report into Savile’s widespread abuses.
Hundreds of victims, 41 hospitals including five secure or mental health hospitals and two children hospitals. In addition, investigations have happened at a children’s convalescent home, an ambulance service and a hospice.
The latest report, published today, is again breathtaking in its detail.
Between 1968 and 1992 Savile sexually abused 63 people connected with Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. The same number he abused at Leeds Royal Infirmary.
The victims ranged in age from just eight years old to 40. Ten of the victims were aged under 12, while another 17 were aged between 12 and 17. The abuse was indiscriminate. They were patients, staff, visitors, volunteers and charity fundraisers.
The abuse ranged from inappropriate touching to rape.
One, described as Victim 20 in today’s report, was aged 12. She describes a porter – a white-haired man who was wearing a gold chain and a white coat.
He approached her, she said, as she was going to the television room. She sat on a chair, he knelt down in front of her, pulled her trousers down and “swiftly raped her”.
“He stood up, pulled his trousers up and wiped down the seat she was still sitting on.”
Then there was the eight-year-old. Her abuse escalated from touching to rape on numerous occasions during the late 1970s and early 80s. She never told a soul.
And Victim 21. She did scream when he abused her as she lay alone in a treatment room. Savile left swiftly and a nurse came in and told her to be quiet, that he would not do such a dreadful thing.
Her father complained to a registrar, and Savile did not come near her again. This was a an 11-year-old child with cancer.
The were “rendered vulnerable” by their age or their condition. “Patient victims were generally very young, paralysed or traumatised due to injury.” Several, it goes on to say, could not escape and Savile was able to abuse them because they were “held captive” within their bed space.
Victim 24 was aged between 11 and 16, and abused systematically between 1978 and 1983. What’s more, the victim told the inquiry, “he was often accompanied by another man, described as wearing a suit, who watched.”
Of the visitors abused, the report says they saw Savile as a potentially kind and positive presence, and were appalled that he sexually abused them “instead of offering polite courtesy”. They ranged in age from 11 to 40.
Savile was, today’s report says, “an opportunistic predator who could also on occasions show a high degree of premeditation when planning attacks.”
The investigation came to the view that Savile “groomed” staff, patients and visitors by means of his celebrity status.
What’s more, there were complaints. Between 1972 and 1985 nine formal verbal reports were made about the abuse by his victims and one formal complaint.
But the investigators found that none of the informal complaints were either taken seriously or escalated to senior management
The one formal complaint was dropped by the complainant’s father because of her serious I’ll health.
The result, the report says, was that ‘no intelligence was gathered over the years and no action taken’.
And laid bare, too, is the involvement of the establishment. Margaret Thatcher actively sponsored and supported Savile, the report says. “Witnesses were at pains to say that this level of endorsement should not be underplayed’.
Savile first appeared at Stoke Mandeville as a voluntary porter in 1969. He was appointed with no checks, monitoring or supervision.
He was given accommodation on site and had 24-hour seven-day-a-week access to all parts of the building complex.
From 1980, he was appointed by Government Ministers and the Department of Health and Social Security to fundraiser and help get built the new National Spinal Injuries Centre.
It secured his position. He became, the report says, an ever increasingly difficult and trouble-making influence at the hospital.
There was a dependence on his charitable funds for the next 20 years which ensured his continued position of power and influence.
And he was able to access a new cohort of victims. Young and vulnerable.
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