PRESSURE is mounting on the trust that runs Basingstoke hospital to deal with an incident involving a member of staff who posted highly offensive comments on social media. 

As previously reported, Russell Simmonds, who has worked in theatre at Basingstoke hospital for 32 years, was publicly shamed on X, formerly known as Twitter, after he commented on the rape and sexual assault allegations made against comedian Russell Brand, saying: “Blokes. This #RussellBrand stuff could happen to any of us.”

The 51-year-old father-of-two received a huge backlash on social media, with hundreds of people calling him out for his controversial views.

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It then came to light that his social media pages contained a string of highly offensive comments which have been shared with his employers at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), including a post saying: “Just shoot them in the face” linking to an article about migrants.

HHFT said on Wednesday, September 20, that an investigation has been launched which will include a review of the “historical activity in relation to the comments” made by Mr Simmonds. 

A spokesperson for the trust added: “Hampshire Hospitals has no place for racism or misogyny; patients and staff should feel reassured that they are safe and welcome.

“In recent days, one member of staff has been found to have made highly offensive comments on social media. When this came to light, we took immediate action, reiterating our commitment to a zero-tolerance policy towards any inappropriate or harmful behaviours and getting the posts removed. The matter is now subject to HR processes which is not something we will comment on.”

Stacy Hart, leader of the Women’s Equality Party Basingstoke branch, has called on the hospital trust to “deal with this incident with the severity it deserves”.

She added: “From behind the keyboard to the workplace, there should be a zero-tolerance approach to any forms of misogyny and racism. The shameful misogyny on social media following the very serious allegations made about Russell Brand shows exactly why it is so hard for many women to share their stories.

“In light of recent reports exposing the extent of misogyny in medical institutions, now more than ever hospitals must prove that they will prioritise putting an end to misogyny and racism in their workforce, and to the culture of impunity that has led us to this point.

“How can women or anyone from marginalised communities be expected to trust in our healthcare system if misogyny and racism like this is allowed to go undetected? The HHFT must commit to dealing with this incident with the severity it deserves as well as take accountability for letting such deviation from their own policy slide for so long.”

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Margaret Williams, coordinator of the Fawcett Society for Hampshire, a charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights, said: "Misogyny and hate speech such as that attributed to Mr Simmonds feeds into the myths and gender stereotypes of patriarchy and disempowerment of women and girls (VAWG), which dissuade survivors reporting abuse for fear of the response they will receive if they do so.

"The argument for the right to self-expression does not extend to provocative comments of hate or violence, whether towards women, people arriving here from outside the UK or anyone else.  It makes no difference how good a person is at their job, there is no justification for the perpetration of misogyny or other hate speech.

"NHS staff are often the first to hear and respond to disclosures of violence or abuse, of any kind. It is incumbent on hospital management to consider this as they address the behaviour and comments of people in their employ."

Included in those who have complained to the trust is Amy Fuller, a senior lecturer at the School of Arts and Humanities at Nottingham Trent University.

In an X post to HHFT she said: “A lot of people are rightly concerned that this was the reaction of Russell Simmonds to the Dispatches documentary about Russell Brand. He works in theatre in your Basingstoke hospital and I for one, would be deeply uncomfortable being treated by this man.”

She added in another post: “This is the kind of thing he’s willing to say publicly, while proudly displaying his work info in his bio.”

The hospital trust said it had not received any complaints about Mr Simmonds previously.