The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Media Statement by Dr Sue Proctor

Statement by Dr Sue Proctor, Chair of the Leeds Independent Investigation

Publication of the report into matters relating to Jimmy Savile and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Before saying anything about our findings, I want to take this opportunity to commend the courage of those former patients, staff and visitors to the Leeds General Infirmary who experienced abusive or inappropriate encounters with Jimmy Savile. Because they came forward voluntarily and told us what happened to them, the NHS in Leeds and across the country now has an opportunity and an obligation to learn from their accounts and make sure that what happened in Leeds at the hands of Savile can never happen again. The NHS is in their debt and I am truly grateful to each of them. I am also grateful to those current and former staff who came forward as witnesses to share their experiences of being in the hospital when Savile was around.

The Leeds investigation team has interviewed over 200 people and reviewed over 1300 documents covering the 50 years Savile was associated with Leeds General Infirmary.

Savile’s relationship with the Infirmary began in 1960 and continued until his death in 2011. Initially through work on the hospital radio service, he became a regular visitor to the hospital, as a celebrity, a fund-raiser and as a volunteer porter. From the 1980s his visits to the hospital became much less frequent, and this trend continued in subsequent decades. During his lifetime, he was well known for his charitable works, and he raised around £3.5 million for the hospital.

Savile enjoyed access and privileges not available to other volunteers or celebrity visitors. He was allocated staff to manage his fan mail and in 1992 was provided with the first of three offices. It was quite normal to see him around wards and departments during the day or night. This unrestricted access gave Savile ample opportunity to indulge in abusive and inappropriate contact with patients and staff.

As part of this investigation, sixty people came forward to tell us about such experiences with him. Of those, 33 were patients at the time, and 19 of these were children. Victims included boys and girls, and men and women. Their ages ranged from five to 75 years, though the majority were teenagers or young adults. His victims also included hospital staff; all were female. A further eight female victims were teenagers who met with Savile at the hospital. The earliest account was from 1962; the most recent, 2009. He was most active from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s.

Reported encounters with Savile ranged from lewd remarks and inappropriate touching to sexual assault and in three cases, rape.

The majority of the encounters took place in public areas in the hospital such as wards, corridors and offices. Only nine of his victims told a member of staff about what happened either directly or via their parents at the time of the abuse. However the investigation found no evidence that reports of abuse by Savile were communicated to senior managers. We saw no evidence of written complaints made about him.

Over the years, a number of organisational failures enabled Savile to continue unchallenged in the hospital. These included

  • Weak internal controls in the standards of support services and in access to patient areas;
  • Weak systems to safeguard patients on wards;
  • Poorly understood and poorly used systems for patients or staff to raise concerns or complain; and
  • Leadership that lacked curiosity about and visibility in the Infirmary.

These factors provided a background for someone as manipulative as Savile to thrive, and to continue his abusive behavior unchecked for years.

Standards in the hospitals run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust today are very different from those when Savile was at his most active. However, there is always room for improvement and the investigation has made 31 recommendations for the Trust. Broadly, these fall into four themes:

  • The central importance of patient safety;
  • Strong internal controls to minimise risks to patient safety;
  • Clear and well understood systems for staff and patients to raise concerns; and
  • Board leadership that is visible, questioning and assertive.

This was an independent investigation commissioned by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Board. We believe, however, that there are many relevant points in our findings and recommendations for any healthcare provider, especially those running hospitals over a number of sites.

Leaders in every NHS Hospital Trust should read this report and in particular the accounts from the victims. They should consider if such events could happen in their organisation, and what controls they have in place to assure themselves that patients, visitors and staff in their organisation are protected from harm.