What happened to Alison?

When she was admitted to an NHS Hospital in Carlisle in 1987, Alison was 21. She was a deeply troubled mentally ill young woman who found herself in a Victorian Style Asylum when Mental Health was a taboo. She was miles from home, scared, alone, confused and vulnerable. We did not know it at the time but a 35yr old trainee nurse called Robert Scott-Buccleuch was taking a sexual interest in Alison. He had life experience and was nearly old enough to be her father. When older men in positions of trust develop relationships with vulnerable young women today, we call it grooming. Having sex with mental health patients on hospital premises was not only unlawful, it is an abuse of trust flying in the face of all available guidance. Records show Scott-Buccleuch was told what he was doing was inappropriate because Alison was so unwell, but he continued regardless.

No civilised person thinks it is “ok” for trainee nurses in NHS Mental Health Hospitals to have sex with patients they are supposed to be caring for. For vulnerable patients to be the subject of their nurse’s desires is the stuff of nightmares; like fish in a barrel at the mercy of the unscrupulous. I often wonder where managers & staff were, while a 35yr old male member of staff had sex on hospital premises with a young patient? It has emerged some staff and managers knew what was going on, they ignored a duty of care to protect Alison.

Alison was in the “care” of the NHS in Carlisle as an inpatient and outpatient for over a year. On the 12th August 1988, unknown to us, as a result of the illegal sex acts, she had an abortion in Carlisle HospitalScott-Buccleuch knew and it seems other people helped him “deal with the situation”, including a Psychiatrist treating Alison. They conspired to brush the consequences of his actions under the carpet. Subjected to a hastily arranged crisis abortion, mentally ill and alone, Alison left Carlisle and moved to Doncaster to be with Mum. We had entrusted her to the NHS because she needed help, but because of the selfish desires of one man and the willingness of others to look the other way, she emerged more damaged and confused. On Friday, December 13th, 1991, near the anniversary of the birthday of her aborted baby and after a long battle with depression, Alison committed suicide. She took off her coat, placed her handbag on the station platform and stepped in front a train at Rotherham Station. Alison was used for selfish gratification and when things became complicated she was cast aside to fend for herself, she was not equipped to deal with the emotional aftermath of what she had been put through.

We buried Alison on a bitter, dark and unforgiving Christmas Eve. We could not see her body before the funeral because the injuries to her face and body were so severe. When Alison stepped in front a train on a cold Friday in December, the trainee nurse who took advantage of her, the staff and managers who turned a blind eye, they may as well have had their hands on her shoulders guiding her into the train’s path. There are reasons for the professional boundaries in healthcare and they should not be broken, the consequences can be disastrous and the impact on those left behind lasts a lifetime. Nobody has yet been held accountable for what happened to Alison. Fast forward to 2001 and the first investigation.

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