More reports of sexually inappropriate behaviour in healthcare

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Complaints of inappropriate sexual behaviour by healthcare workers have more than doubled in the last four years, reflecting greater awareness of the issue, according to the health and youth care inspectorate IGJ.

In 2023 the IGJ received 330 reports of inappropriate conduct, compared to 240 the previous year and 130 in 2020. The numbers are always rounded to the nearest 10.

The inspectorate believes the real number of cases is far higher, but “the tip of the iceberg is steadily rising above the water.” The trend shows that “there is more attention for it and people are becoming increasingly alert.”

The number of cases in the disability care sector doubled from 50 to 100 in the last year, while 70 complaints came from the mental health sector, up from 50 in 2022. Complaints in frontline healthcare, such as doctors’ and dental practices, have gone up from 10 to 60 since 2020.

The inspectorate said the incidents covered a wide range of transgressions. “It concerns sexually explicit comments and app messages, unwanted physical contact, unnecessary physical examinations and sexual contact (even if it is reciprocal) up to sexual assault and rape.”

Sexual relations are never appropriate because there is “always an unequal relationship between the carer and patient or client,” the inspectorate said. It is harmful “not just for those involved, but for their environment and for trust in healthcare.”

Breakdown of reports of inappropriate sexual behaviour by care sector. Source: IGJ
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