Daisy Cooper, the MP for St Albans, led a debate in Westminster Hall earlier this week on the inadequacy of investigations into abuse and sexual assaults in the NHS.

It is part of a longstanding campaign by the MP to work out why investigations are inadequate, and what can be done about the problem.

Ms Cooper says that what she has uncovered is "shocking", and that there is a "staggering lack of support for survivors".

She has found that "there is no tailored support available for patients reporting incidents of a sexual nature", with victims unclear where they should go to complain.

Ms Cooper also said: "There has been no discernible progress on implementing the recommendations of three inquiries and reports from the Professional Standards Authority.

"No clear or systemic collection of data of reports of sexual abuse and misconduct within the health service is available for public or parliamentary scrutiny.

"The recent revelations by investigative journalists ... of thousands of rapes and sexual assaults across the NHS mean that immediate action is needed to make our hospitals safe from sexual predators."

During her speech, Ms Cooper shared details of two alleged attacks on her constituents in NHS facilities.

One of those constituents, a member of the public, alleges that she was abused by a medical professional. She disclosed the incident to her GP, who in turn raised a complaint with the relevant NHS Trust.

However, it was treated as an employer-employee dispute, in which the anonymous member of the public was treated only as a witness and was not entitled even to know the outcome of the case.

The General Medical Council (GMC) wanted to open an investigation into the professional concerned, but the alleged victim was not in a fit state medically at the time to go through that process.

When she then tried to re-open the case seven years later, she was unable to do so because the GMC has a five-year limit on cases unless there are deemed to be "exceptional circumstances in the public interest". In this case, they did not believe that those circumstances existed.

The alleged victim then went to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - who redirected her to the two processes she had already attempted to go through.

Another constituent, a medical professional, made a complaint to her managers after an incident but it went nowhere.

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Ms Cooper referred to a 2021 survey for the Nursing Times, which found that "three in every five nurses had been sexually harassed at work, with barely a quarter of these incidents being reported to employers, because nurses just do not believe it will get them anywhere".

Responding for the government was Maria Caulfield, minister for women and minister for mental health and women's health strategy.

She said: "We have been doing significant work in this space for a while, and sexual abuse is one of the key priorities in the women’s health strategy published last year.

"We know that victims and perpetrators can span a mix of patients, staff and visitors, and that the highest number of cases occur in mental health settings. We take that very seriously indeed. A rapid review is happening at the moment. 

"NHS England has expanded the remit and scale of the domestic abuse and sexual violence programme to co-ordinate work on sexual safety in healthcare settings.

"NHS England is collecting more consistent and granular information on patients who experience sexual violence and domestic abuse.

"We are committed to making it easier for patients to report historical concerns and are looking at modernising the GMC’s five-year rule. 

"NHS England has committed to a number of preventive actions, including creating a gold standard for policies, support and training relating to staff who experience sexual violence. That is being rolled out across ICBs, trusts and royal colleges.

"We want people to come forward and we want numbers to be recorded. We need to ensure that the reporting processes are in place and that action is taken at a national level, by each individual trust and by the healthcare regulators.

"Delivering on this agenda is a top priority and I cannot overstate my personal commitment to progress in this space."