Police probe launched over claims patient was groped at hospital

University Hospital of Hartlepool.
University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Police launched a probe into an allegation that a patient was groped by a member of staff at Hartlepool’s hospital.

Bosses at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and Cleveland Police investigated the allegation but it has since been closed.

Alan Foster, the chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Alan Foster, the chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

But the alleged victim and her husband have hit out at hospital chiefs for a series of delays and miscommunications during their internal investigation.

It revealed that names of trainee doctors treating patients were not documented on the patients medical records.

And after two and a half years the trust has not been able to identify the alleged groper.

The alleged victim said: “It is beyond belief.

“It has changed my life completely.”

The woman, who cannot be identified, claims she was sexually assaulted by a member of staff when she attended the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

She said she was so stunned she did not report it to a member of hospital staff until several weeks later.

The complaint was then passed on to another staff member, but it was not properly followed up until the alleged victim and her husband contacted the trust six weeks later to ask what was happening.

The woman’s husband said: “Vital time was lost. This shows the trust have such poor internal communication especially when a complaint is so serious.”

In a letter to the couple, hospital Chief Executive Alan Foster said there appeared to have been ‘miscommunication’ between the two members of staff.

He added: “The Trust have unreservedly apologised for this delay and acknowledged that when your wife first reported the incident, the policy for reporting such incidents should have been implemented.”

And minutes of a meeting between the couple and the trust revealed trainee doctors assisting medics in the department were not kept recorded on patients notes at the time of the claim.

They stated that after the incident, any assisting trainee doctors should be recorded in the patient notes.

The alleged victim’s husband added: “We have fought the trust to try to get an answer who this person is but have had no joy.

“We find it amazing that all staff are not recorded in clinics for safety of patients and others.”

The alleged victim reported the incident to Cleveland Police but said there was a five-month delay in officers receiving the alleged victim’s medical records from the trust.

Even then, the notes for the appointment from the day of the assault was missing at first.

Mr Foster added in his letter the trust’s Medical Records Manager had been unable to say why it was missing, putting it down to human error, and apologised for the distress caused.

Police say they have taken the investigation as far as they can pending any new information.

The alleged victim spoke out in the hope it encourages anyone who has experienced anything similar to come forward.

She said she received counselling from the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in North Ormseby for over a year due to the trauma she suffered.

The couple have reported the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman to determine if the trust acted properly.

“We are continuing to fight to bring this person to justice,” said the husband.

Deepak Dwarakanath, medical director for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “We take matters like this very seriously and a thorough investigation has taken place.”

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “We received a report of a sexual assault in 2013 and this allegation was thoroughly investigated. The case was later closed pending any 
new lines of inquiry coming to light.”