HomeWellbeingOne in seven NHS staff have experienced physical violence while at work

One in seven NHS staff have experienced physical violence while at work

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NHS workers in the past 5 years have experienced physical violence, in the coming months, what plans have been constructed to combat this issue?

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One in seven NHS staff has said to have experienced physical violence while at work. This has reached it’s highest in 5 years, figures show that 15.2% of staff in England have experienced physical violence from patients, relatives, or other public members within the last year.

It has been reported that Health Secretary, Matt Hancock will release initiatives to resolve this issue, in an attempt to reduce the number of staff involved in these situations, by providing them with the right training and processes, he has said that the NHS will adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to this. 

Matt comments on this significant percentage of staff being physically assaulted in the past 5 years, saying “NHS staff dedicate their lives to protecting and caring for us in our times of greatest need and for any one of them to be subject to aggression or violence is completely unacceptable,” Matt plans to announce these changes in an attempt to hamper down on this issue, in a speech to the Royal College of Nursing that will be initiated next Wednesday.

He continues on saying “We will not shy away from the issue. We want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system.”

A survey that was released to NHS staff in 2013 revealed that 15% of staff experienced physical abuse, while the same survey published in 2017 showed a 0.2% increase. A reason being for this constant growth could be potentially due to a body called NHS Protect, which was originally created to support hospitals in the UK on staff safety, however, after disbanding in 2017, this has left it solely up to NHS individuals to ensure that their employees are safe while at work.

In 2007 and 2011 the number of staff who had experienced physical violence from patients or others in the past 12 months reduced from 11% in 2007 to 7% in 2011. However, this increased to 15% in 2012 although this could possibly not be comparable to the previous year, as the way in which staff could respond to the question changed, making the responses more sensitive. In 2015 there were 12% of staff who stated that they were physically assaulted, this then increased in 2016 to 15%, then again to 15.2% in 2017.

In the meeting with the Royal College of Nursing next Wednesday, Matt Hancock plans to outline the new strategy addressing physical violence. This will include offenders being prosecuted faster due to a result of a new partnership with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service. Better training for staff to deal with these violent situations, including issues involving patients with mental health issues or dementia. As well as a new system so that staff can record physically violence with ease.

Kim Sunley, Royal College of Nursing National Officer said: “Nurses and healthcare workers understand their roles aren’t risk-free but – to many – it still seems as if the threat of physical violence is a daily reality. These measures are another way to change this for good by increasing the accountability of employers for the safety of their staff, and ensuring those who wilfully assault healthcare workers feel the full force of the law.”


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