Girls told 'pretend to be asleep' as Jimmy Savile visited hospital

Nurses at Stoke Mandeville hospital allegedly knew Savile visited the children's ward to prey on patients

LAST UPDATED AT 10:00 ON Thu 11 Oct 2012

A BUCKINGHAMSHIRE hospital is under pressure to set up an inquiry after it was claimed that nurses knew Jimmy Savile visited its children's ward to prey on vulnerable girls.
 
Young patients at Stoke Mandeville hospital were allegedly told to "pretend to be asleep" when Savile went on "ward rounds" to find young patients to abuse, reports The Daily Telegraph.
 
Savile was a fund-raiser and volunteer porter at Stoke Mandeville in the 1970s while working as a disc jockey and presenter on BBC radio and television.
 
Rebecca Owen, a former patient at the hospital, told BBC News last night that nurses at the hospital knew about his behaviour and did not welcome his visits. Owen said she heard a conversation between nurses in which they implied Savile also targeted them.
 
"It was an air of resignation that you had to put up with," she said. "There was some sort of ironic chatter between the nurses about who would be the lucky one to go off to his room. And then, as one of the nurses was leaving or passing by my bed, she leant over and said the best thing you can do is stay in bed until he's gone and pretend to be asleep."
 
Teenagers in wheelchairs and others recovering from cancer were among those allegedly abused by Savile during his time as a hospital porter, reports the Daily Mail.
 
One patient claimed he was fondled in Savile's Rolls-Royce at a Stoke Mandeville fundraiser when he was just nine, and two women said Savile had forcibly kissed them when they were in their early teens.
 
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, insisted it has never received any complaints about Savile and said the trust was "shocked" to hear of the allegations.
 
"We are unaware of any record or reports of inappropriate behaviour of this nature during Jimmy's work with the trust," he said. "We can confirm that the police have contacted us as part of their assessment exercise and we are co-operating with them."

Meanwhile, the BBC has announced that it is appointing an independent outsider to chair its internal inquiry into the Savile scandal. Furthermore, Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said yesterday that Savile may not have acted alone and raised the prospect that the corporation may have to make an on-air apology for not stopping him. · 

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At one level, the Jimmy Savile revelations are not surprising, least of all for failure to act at the time on the part of those who should have. However, abuse comes in various forms and I wonder if, for example, verbal abuse by so called celebrities is tolerated as their stock in trade with only a rare slap on the wrist when such behavior in more normal spheres would be met with immediate reprimand or even dismissal?

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