Sunderland NHS chief suspended over abuse claims

Mark Andrew Watson
Mark Andrew Watson
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A SENIOR NHS manager has been suspended over child sex allegations.

Mark Andrew Watson, a department head at Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust (TPCT), has been charged with a series of sexual offences against teenage boys, including rape, grooming and attempted abduction.

He is accused of raping one boy and abusing another in 2004.

And he has also been charged with attempting to abduct a boy of 14 and possessing indecent images.

Watson, 42, head of quality, innovation, productivity and prevention, was arrested in Gateshead in January following a police investigation.

Before joining Sunderland TPCT, Watson was a commissioning manager for Substance Misuse at Gateshead PCT.

He was also the founder of a children’s charity who worked with youngsters for 25 years.

In 1986, Watson helped set up the Trinity Youth Association in Bedlington, which offers after-school, holiday clubs and youth groups helping young people who are in trouble, vulnerable and at risk.

He remained at the helm of the association until January this year – the month he was arrested.

It is understood that the allegations are not connected with that organisation.

A spokeswoman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear said: “I can confirm that Mark Andrew Watson is employed by Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust.

“He is currently suspended from his post subject to internal procedures.

“Mr Watson is employed in a management capacity and is not a member of frontline clinical staff.”

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “Mark Andrew Watson, 42, of Green Lane, Ashington, has been charged with one count of rape, eight counts of penetrative acts with a child, two counts of grooming, one count of attempted abduction and four counts of possession of indecent images.”

He is due to appear before Gateshead Magistrates’ Court later this month.