Patients were at risk from Jimmy Savile’s ‘open access’ to ambulance service
Notorious sex offender Jimmy Savile was allowed to attend 999 call-outs with Yorkshire ambulance crews, posing a “significant risk” to patients, a report has found.
An independent inquiry into the disgraced former DJ’s involvement with the West Yorkshire ambulance service between 1975 and 1995 found no evidence that he abused patients.
But the report, published today, found that he had open access to ambulance stations which could have given him the opportunity to offend.
While no former patients, relatives or staff told the investigation that Savile carried out abuse, the report said: “However, his access to patients and staff was inappropriate and, with the benefit of hindsight, placed both patients and staff at risk of abuse.”
The report is one of 16 published today into Savile’s behaviour at hospital and hospice premises, including Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary.
The Stoke Mandeville report found that he abused 63 people connected to the hospital and his reputation as a sex pest was an open secret.
The West Yorkshire ambulance report said Savile had a keen interest in the service, and would join members of staff in the mess room at Leeds Central Ambulance Station.
Witnesses told the inquiry he behaved differently around female staff members.
One said: “He told dirty stories with the men around, blue jokes, that kind of thing.”
Another said: “He would latch on to the ladies... stroking their hands.”
One witness recalled going to Savile’s flat, where he showed them pictures of young woman in her underwear and asked now old they thought she was.
Savile would turn up at the ambulance station in sports cars or a mini-van with sliding doors and a TV inside.
He sometimes turned up with a white-haired friend. The report said: “When Savile was brought to the station with this other person, no one could be sure what this other person was doing when Savile went out observing on ambulances.”
Savile went on emergency and non-emergency call-outs with crews, arranged with a former paramedic friend, now deceased, who previously worked with Savile as a miner.
No witnesses said they had concerns of sexual abuse or harassment by Savile.
The report said: “Although the risk of Savile being left alone with any patient at any point cannot be ruled out, witnesses consistently reported that Savile was not afforded any opportunity to be alone with any patients.
“We do however accept and acknowledge that, in other NHS organisations, Savile was able to abuse patients and staff, in the presence of others.
“With the benefit of hindsight, we therefore accept that Savile’s presence as an observer posed a significant risk to the safety of patients and staff.”
No witnesses could remember any checks or safeguards that were in place during Savile’s visits.
One said: “At the time, it was Jimmy Savile for God’s sake! He could walk on water at the time and nobody would question it.”
No witnesses could say who authorised Savile’s visits, but one thought it was the chief ambulance officer of West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service between 1974 and 1986, now deceased.
In 2008, Savile attended an event at Leeds Central Ambulance Station to recognised staff members who were leaving.
A witness took his child to the event and asked for Savile for a photograph with the youngster.
But Savile vehemently refused, saying: “Because there are already some things in the press”‟ and “I’ve been accused before, it’s been in the papers.
“If anyone gets a picture of me with a child on my knee it will be in the papers and it won’t look good.”
The report said access to ambulance stations was now restricted and a swipe card system was in place.
The West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service became part of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust in 2006.
The trust carried out a review of current procedures as part of the inquiry.
Interim chief executive Rod Barnes said in the report: “I am confident that the Trust has completed a rigorous investigation drawing on all information available to us at this time.
“I am also assured that the governance arrangements, safeguarding practices and internal security arrangements ensure that such an association could not happen in the Yorkshire Ambulance Service today.”
After Savile’s death in October 2011, Operation Yewtree was launched by the Metropolitan Police.
It has since been established that Savile was a prolific sexual predator, paedophile and rapist.