Jimmy Savile carried out at least 57 sex attacks in NHS hospitals, including one on a dying teenager, across six decades. He also abused children at least 14 times in schools.
Scotland Yard revealed that at least three hospitals had unwittingly helped Savile by giving him special access to wards and buildings – and that he had carried out attacks in 13 hospitals and one hospice having used his celebrity and charity work to gain access.
The Department of Health has asked all of the hospitals to conduct inquiries into Savile’s offending and report back to Whitehall. David Gray, a detective superintendent in Scotland Yard’s Paedophile Unit who co-reported in the Savile report, said that carers had often ignored the few who had complained about Savile.
Det Supt Gray added today: “He could do anything he wanted. He could turn up a school and say: ‘I’ve just arrived.’ Similarly, he had quite often been written to by individuals, people in hospitals, who said: ‘I’m sick with a very serious illness, please come to see me’.” Savile would then speak to hospital administrators and become a more regular hospital visitor.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today: “We knew when the investigation opened in the autumn that we had a problem in three NHS organisations but today we realise that its gone a lot further than that.
“I feel a real sense of shock that this happened over 41 years. The question we are all asking ourselves is how could this have happened for so long without anyone speaking up?
“It seems highly unlikely if this extent of wrongdoing was happening no one knew that anything was happening over that period of time.” Mr Hunt said that a review by a barrister, Kate Lampard, would establish how Savile had been able to abuse NHS patients for decades.
He added: “It’s a very painstaking process because you are going back over 40 years. Many of the employees will have left the hospitals, many will have died, there were not digital records.
“But we do need to find that whether people in those organisations had any inkling of what was going on, whether we had the right procedures in place and if we didn’t, why not?”
Most of the hospital attacks happened at either Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire (22 between 1965 and 1988) or Leeds General Infirmary (16 between 1965 and 1995). One occurred at Broadmoor in 1991.
There was one each at a string of other NHS hospitals, including Ashworth High Security Unit, High Royds Psychiatric Hospital in West Yorkshire, and Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London.
Savile reportedly abused the relative of a dying teenager at the Sue Ryder-operated Wheatfield hospice in Leeds.
NHS Trusts variously described the report as “shocking” and “extremely distressing” for many of those involved.