Canterbury DHB reports too little sexual abuse, says nurse 1 NEWS NOW

The Health Board of Canterbury District does not tell the full story about sexual assault of the staff, says a nurse.

Official information released to RNZ shows since 2015, it has registered nearly 70 complaints of sexual assault.

All but two of these complaints came from staff working in mental health care.

But a nurse from the DHB, who does not work in mental health, said she was sexually harassed and abused and her complaints were ignored.

In the last three and a half years, the HealthHighard Board of Canterbury (CDHB) received 132 complaints about sexual assault.

Sixty-six of these complaints were submitted to patients by employees, including five students.

Thirty-seven were made by patients about other patients, while the remaining six were outside hospital possession and did not involve staff.

The newspapers show that CDHB registered only two complaints of the sexual assault of staff working outside the mental health departments.

One nurse, who did not want to be mentioned, said there were many more attacks on staff working in areas other than mental health.

"I can not help but wonder where the rest is … They were irrelevant or unimportant? Because it is not up to the management to decide what does and does not count.

The nurse, who works for the DHB since 2015, reported her own sexual attacks to managers each time and said she knew of nine other nurses who had done the same in the past four years.

They all work outside of mental health, she said.

"They range from obscene remarks about how much I would spend an hour as a sex worker or how my rightful place as a nurse on my knees involves performing sexual acts on them, and attempts at my breasts, waist and buttocks."

Sixty-seven of the 69 complaints filed by staff against patients were made by staff working at Hillmorton Hospital. Only 150 nurses work.

New Zealand Nurses Organization organizer John Miller said that patients in those units were extremely ill, but sexual assault was never acceptable.

"The DHB, and we, must always be aware that this will take its toll and that when nurses report that they have been abused or that they are being abused, that the DHB needs an absolute change, it can not be normalized, it can not be accepted as part of the work.

"It has been handled and those people need to be supported."

CDHB CEO David Meates said in a statement that nurses who raised their concerns at RNZ were not identified, so without knowing who they were and what happened, he could not comment on their cases.

"No one is allowed to come to work and expect to experience any form of abuse, there is no level of abuse that would be considered acceptable.

"I would encourage these nurses to express their concerns."

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