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29.11.13

Staff assaults increase by 5.8%

Cases of reported physical assaults against NHS staff have risen by 5.8% to 63,199 in 2012/13. The figures come from 341 health bodies in England and are released by NHS Protect.

The number of criminal sanctions following reported assaults rose by 201, or 15.9%.

NHS Protect has called for health bodies to take advantage of the joint working agreement with ACPO and the Crown Prosecution Service, to seek advice from the enhanced network of NHS Protect’s Area Security Management Specialists (ASMs), and ensure staff are trained to use available powers to respond to low-level nuisance behaviour.

Richard Hampton, head of local support and development services at NHS Protect, said: “NHS staff should expect to be able to provide care in a safe environment, free from violence and physical assault. NHS Protect urges employers to take firm action in all cases of assault against NHS staff.

“We urge all NHS staff to report assault and acts of violence against them. Employers must do all they can to support staff in preventing incidents and pursuing offenders.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the RCN said: “NHS staff who are doing an extremely difficult job should not have to be subjected to assault. There are instances where these assaults or aggressive behaviour are related to a clinical condition, however employers must do more to prevent incidents. Where appropriate, prosecuting those who assault staff is an important measure, however what is most important is to prevent these attacks from happening in the first place.

“Employers must create environments where staff do not feel threatened by the risk of assault. It is not only better for staff but better for patients to be treated in a positive environment where staff can better deliver compassionate care.

“We are concerned that frontline staff may be at greater risk because of additional pressures on services, leading to a growing level of frustration from some patients. There is no excuse to take out these frustrations on hard working frontline staff, who have no control over the pressure that services are under and are doing everything they can to help patients despite these challenges. If employers fail to provide a safe working environment for their staff it simply increases these pressures and this is bad for staff, bad for patient care and bad for the NHS.”

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