Belfast Telegraph

Medic sex abuse 'worse than Church'

The scale of sexual abuse by medical practitioners against patients could be far worse than scandals that rocked the Catholic Church, it has been claimed.

Dignity4Patients, which is supporting more than 250 alleged victims, has demanded a state inquiry into the abuse of patients after allegations were made against male and female consultants, doctors and nurses from all over the country.

Bernadette Sullivan, executive director, warned medics are able to abuse more than other professions, with most privately seeing a new patient every 10 to 15 minutes.

"The scale of numbers a doctor can abuse as compared to a priest are huge," said the former nurse-turned-whistleblower. The worrying thing about the medical profession, and why there has to be an urgent move to do something about this, is the scale of which they can offend I believe is far greater than any other area of our life."

Dignity4Patients said a dozen different government-ordered investigations into abuse have been completed since the group began calling for an inquiry into the health sector 17 years ago.

The organisation also supports alleged victims of ex-consultant Michael Shine. The pensioner was acquitted in court of indecent assault on teenage boys while working at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda but was later struck off the medical register for professional misconduct. He denies all allegations of abuse.

Elsewhere almost a fifth of patients believe they have been subjected to an inappropriate action or comment by a health practitioner, an independent survey of 100 patients for Dignity4Patients suggests.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was awaiting legal advice from the Attorney General Maire Whelan on a possible way forward to inquire into allegations of abuse in the health sector.

"Really I do feel for, empathise and sympathise for the victims in this case," he told the Dail.

Mr Kenny offered to meet with cross-party TDs from the North East region who have been supporting some of the alleged victims to discuss options. The Taoiseach also said that the option of an Oireachtas inquiry had to be shelved after the proposed widening of parliamentary powers of inquiry was rejected in a referendum last year.

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