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Revealed: health board's delay in raising sex abuse allegations from vulnerable patients

A review into Kris Wade's employment with ABMU Health board has been published

A health board failed to carry out adequate pre-employment safety checks on a member of staff who was later alleged to have sexually assaulted vulnerable patients, an internal review has found.

CRB
The review into Kris Wade said it was "unable to locate any evidence this was undertaken"
Kris Wade murdered Christine James in her flat in Cardiff Bay

Kris Wade worked in the Learning and Disabilities Directorate of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board as a nursing assistant.

He was based in Rowan House, Cardiff, when the allegations were made. Wade later went on to murder his next door neighbour, Christine James, in a 'sexually motivated' attack.

A team reviewing Abertawe Bro Morgannwg's handling of the former employee said it was "unable to locate any evidence this [a CRB check] was undertaken" and that "the likelihood is, no CRB check was ever undertaken" when Wade was assigned a nursing assistant post.

This contradicts a health board statement published after Kris Wade's sentencing for murder, which states: "We can confirm that a criminal records check was carried out before Mr Wade was first employed at Rowan House in 2005."

The review also highlights large gaps in Wade's employment history saying "no information is held regarding how Kris Wade came to secure a full time substantive contract, in what capacity and no information regarding recruitment or application is held or known."

The review highlighted delays in abuse allegations being escalated

Further failings are identified around the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse by vulnerable patients. The review states of the first allegation, made in 2011, that "there is no evidence that the allegation was escalated" within the health board when the allegation was first made. This was something repeated, the review says, when the same allegation was raised multiple times.

With each allegation, the police were informed, but no criminal proceedings were taken forward.

Following the publication of the review, ITV Wales can reveal that multiple staff had raised issues for years about how concerns were raised and how the health board managed them.

Ray Jacques was a consultant psychiatrist and associate clinical director within the learning and disabilities directorate Credit: ITV Wales

Ray Jacques was a consultant psychiatrist and associate clinical director within the learning and disabilities directorate. One of the alleged victims of Kris Wade, was a patient of his. He's now retired but spoke exclusively to ITV Wales of his concerns around the handling of allegations by ABMU.

We've had patients who have made very serious allegations about abuse. We've had an investigatory process which has been highly critical.

We've had myself, the BMA and other people raising serious concerns with the health board about conflicts of interest around that, and failures around that investigatory process, to be able to come to any sort of satisfactory conclusion.

We've had disastrous results of that. I can't think of anything more scandalous than that. I'm not sure what else would need to happen to say, 'this forms a scandal'.

– Ray Jacques, former associate clinical director

ITV Wales can also reveal how the British Medical Association in Wales started looking into the concerns raised back in 2016 and has pushed for months to see the review into Kris Wade.

The BMA is calling for an independent inquiry into what happened Credit: ITV Wales

We believe it is unacceptable for a health board to investigate serious concerns about itself.

A desk top review which fails to speak to everyone involved in raising concerns is wholly insufficient and demonstrates a significant lack of transparency about the process.

The review seems to absolve the Health Board from any responsibility for not acting sooner, this is simply unacceptable.

A failure to act now may well condemn ABMU Health Board to repeat these failings in the future.

– Dr David Bailey, Chairman elect of the BMA’s Welsh Council

ITV Wales understands that the review published by ABMU into Kris Wade a couple days ago, was actually finished in January 2017. It was also seen by Welsh Government - who were first informed of concerns about the Learning and Disabilities Directorate back in September 2016.

This has prompted opposition parties to also question how robust the health board's investigations have been and back the BMA's call for an independent inquiry into what has happened.

Welsh Conservatives leader, Andrew RT Davies has backed the BMA's call Credit: ITV Wales

The Welsh Conservatives leader, Andrew RT Davies said the review showed "a laissez faire attitude to safeguarding and a culture of stubborn unwilling to take seriously the testimony of patients and staff members."

Given the enormity of the issues raised, an internal desktop review could never wholly satisfy the questions that remain over the true scale of the abuse, what went wrong, what lessons should be learned, and to what extent the health board could have acted more quickly.

I would urge the Welsh Government not to delay in undertaking an independent inquiry into this case.

– Andrew RT Davies, Leader, Welsh Conservatives
Plaid Cymru are calling for 'heads to roll' following the review Credit: ITV Wales

Plaid Cymru have called for 'heads to roll'.

Bethan Jenkins, AM said: "I’m frankly astonished at what I’ve read in this report. This highlights what are clearly systemic failures in patient care and protection. The details regarding the proper reporting and action – or lack thereof – of allegations of sexual assault against Mr Wade from vulnerable patients is damning.

"I think it’s time for heads to roll, frankly. Those with responsibility to report incidents and follow proper procedure - or not as it was in these cases – should go, and those with ultimate responsibility in ABMU should also be considering their positions at the moment. The buck has to stop somewhere and there needs to be accountability for another failure of patient care and protection at ABMU."

ABMU have been asked for comment, but previously said in response to calls for an independent inquiry that "we are surprised and disappointed to hear the BMA is calling for a review in how we investigate formal concerns.

"ABMU Health Board actively encourages all staff to raise concerns about patient safety, and have robust processes in place to support this. We encourage openness and transparency."

It added: "As a health board, it is of course our responsibility to investigate concerns raised in the first place, and when necessary to arrange for external reviews, and we have done this on a number of occasions."

It also said it has made a 'number of changes which have considerably strengthened the recruitment process' since Wade joined the NHS in 2001.

ABMU Health Board is finalising a new policy which will provide advice and guidance to managers when dealing with matters of HR when friends and family are involved. This will ensure transparency where relationships are identified within the same service.

Other recent changes include the introduction in 2015 by ABMU of a Serious Incident Investigation Team to monitor serious incidents and work proactively with managers, and in some cases support an independent investigation.

– Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board spokesperson

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We expect Health Boards to robustly investigate any serious allegations made against NHS staff, and to take appropriate action if necessary.

"In addition, there are clear national policies in place which set out the process for staff who wish to raise concerns. Health Boards are expected to have robust and effective processes and governance arrangements in place to handle any concerns raised.”

ITV Wales will have more, exclusive details and interviews on this story, tonight, on Wales at Six.

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