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Savile abuse report 'distressing'

Jimmy Savile victimised some of the most vulnerable people in society in the places where they should have felt safest, according to a chilling report into the disgraced TV presenter's predatory sex offending.

Detectives have been contacted about 50 cases of abuse at 14 medical institutions including hospitals, psychiatric units and even a hospice, according to the joint Scotland Yard and NSPCC report.

Four alleged offences took place at psychiatric hospitals and Savile is also said to have abused a seriously ill teenager at a hospice.

He gained access to vulnerable patients by using his growing celebrity status, according to the report.

"At Leeds General Infirmary, Broadmoor Hospital and Stoke Mandeville Hospital he was taken at face value as a volunteer and fundraiser, probably because of his growing celebrity status," the report states.

"Having been accepted at these institutions he gained access to vulnerable children and adults."

Healthcare organisations at the centre of the scandal have described the report into the abuse as "extremely distressing".

The majority of the NHS institutions involved have launched investigations into abuse allegations and the Department of Health (DH) is conducting a separate investigation run by a former barrister.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that investigations should look into whether any NHS employee knew what was going on and turned a blind eye to the abuse.

He told Sky News: "We knew when the investigation opened in the autumn that we had a problem in three NHS organisations but today we realise that it's gone a lot further than that.

"The first thing I want to say is that I feel a real sense of shock that this happened over 41 years and these are people who are, by definition, the most vulnerable people in society and this evil man was able to prey on them.

"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."

He continued: "We are now doing some very detailed investigations.

"It's a very painstaking process because you are going back over forty 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 importantly of all, we need to know whether anything needs to change in the procedures that we have now in the NHS in order to be able to reassure the public that NHS organisations are totally safe."

But a lawyer representing 50 of Savile's victims criticised the NHS investigations for being slow.

Liz Dux said that a number of those affected have already given evidence to the BBC probe, but that the NHS inquiries were taking place more slowly.

She said: "We have a concern that there are just no specific opportunities for victims to give evidence. Those organisations which have been named for the first time today must hold their own inquiries."

Savile is reported to have committed offences at hospitals around Britain, including at four mental health institutions.

He has been accused of committing one offence Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, in Berkshire, in 1991.

The presenter had his own set of keys to the hospital and also had an office and flat outside the main building.

Steve Shrubb, chief executive of West London Mental Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "The scale and nature of the incidents described in the report is deeply distressing for all those involved."

Savile has also been accused of committing offences at Saxondale Mental Health Hospital in Nottinghamshire and High Royds Psychiatric Hospital in Leeds.

He is alleged to have committed one offence at each of the hospitals, which have both since closed, in 1971 and 1989 respectively.

A victim has also come forward to say they were abused at Ashworth Hospital High Secure Unit in 1971.

Ray Walker, executive director of high secure services and nursing at Mersey Care NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said Ashworth did not exist in 1971 but the incident could have taken place at the former Moss Side Hospital.

Another offence is alleged to have taken place at Wheatfield hospice in Leeds.

"Jimmy Savile was well known locally for his fundraising efforts for local charitable causes," said Helen Ankrett, palliative care services manager at the hospice, which is run by care provider Sue Ryder.

"As such I'm aware that, in the first few years of Wheatfields Hospice's opening, he organised a few fundraising events in aid of the hospice.

"We're appalled and dismayed to hear that an alleged incident took place on the premises of the hospice in 1977. Our thoughts are with the individual involved and their family at this difficult time, and we will, of course, fully support the police in their investigation."

There were 22 reported cases of abuse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury, between 1965 and 1988.

Savile was a fundraiser and volunteer at the hospital. He had an office in the main building and a flat on site.

Another case is said to have taken place at Wycombe General Hospital, which is run by the same NHS Trust which oversees Stoke Mandeville - Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

There were 16 reported cases of abuse at Leeds General Infirmary, where Savile was a porter between 1965 and 1995. Another victim is said to have been abused at St James's Teaching Hospital, which is also run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

A spokesman for the trust said it would look into any complaints made to police or the trust about this "extremely distressing subject".

One reported case took place at the famous children's hospital Great Ormond Street in 1971.

A hospital spokeswoman said the contents of the report are "extremely distressing" for all those involved.

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is leading an investigation into one offence which is alleged to have taken place at Exeter Hospital in 1970.

Meanwhile, another offence is said to have taken place at St Catherine's Hospital in Birkenhead in 1964.

One incident is alleged to have taken place at Portsmouth Royal Hospital, which has since closed, in 1968. In 1969, another alleged offence took place at Dewsbury Hospital in West Yorkshire.

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