NHS bars rape victim from working in office for no face mask

NHS bars rape victim from working in office for not wearing a mask – despite her claiming face coverings trigger horrific memories of her sex attack

  • An NHS worker can’t return to her office as she is unable to wear a face mask
  • The mother-of-two has memories of a sex attack triggered if she wears one
  • The Solent NHS Trust worker does not have contact with patients in her job

An NHS administrator who cannot wear a mask because it triggers memories of a horrific sex attack has been barred from returning to the office – despite having no contact with patients.

The mother-of-two has been forced to work from home for almost five months after telling her bosses that she found it traumatic to wear a mask while sitting at her desk.

The woman, who works for the Solent NHS Trust, which has hospitals in Portsmouth and Southampton, was diagnosed last year with post-traumatic stress disorder after being gagged and raped 14 years ago.

An NHS worker from near Southampton has had to work from home for almost five months, as her office requires her to wear a mask but doing so triggers horrific memories of a sex attack she suffered (stock photo)

Despite a psychologist writing to her bosses to explain her legitimate exemption from their mask-wearing mandate, they have blocked her from entering her office.

The woman, who lives near Southampton, said that being made to wear a mask while sitting at her desk for eight hours a day was ‘incredibly traumatic’.

She added: ‘As soon as I have something over my face, it takes me right back to those awful moments when I was gagged and raped, but being forced to work from home is taking a huge toll on my mental health, too.

‘I appreciate these are unprecedented times and keeping everyone safe is paramount, but I am triple-jabbed and do a lateral flow test twice a week. Our office is also open-plan and we are seated two metres apart. Why can’t I come in?’

She offered to sit apart from colleagues and wear a mask when moving around the office, but her bosses refused and insisted in emails that ‘masks need to be worn’.

The woman added: ‘It’s someone in their high chair saying ‘That’s my decision and it’s final’, irrespective of whether it makes sense or not. It’s just ridiculous.’

Her MP, Dr Julian Lewis (pictured in parliament), said the NHS Trust should not put the mental health and career of the woman at risk over not wearing a facemask

The UK Health Security Agency recommends masks for healthcare staff – but many trusts only apply the guidance for roles that involve working with patients.

The woman said: ‘There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t receive emails from the NHS about their commitment to supporting mental health, yet here I am stuck at home feeling completely alone and dejected.’

Her MP, Dr Julian Lewis, said: ‘It’s time for the Trust to face the reality of Covid as an endemic infection which should not – and need not – put at risk the career and mental health of my constituent.’

Last night, a Solent NHS Trust spokesman said: ‘We are in touch with our colleague and are ensuring we are doing everything we can to support her. 

‘We recognise mask-wearing exemptions and work closely with staff to make reasonable adjustments so they can continue in their work while keeping themselves, their colleagues, patients and visitors safe.’

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