Nearly a third of NHS staff at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients last year, figures show.
The Government has announced new measures to better protect health service staff in England, calling for a “zero tolerance” approach.
Abuse from patients and staff
Responses to the latest NHS Staff Survey show that 30% of workers at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust said they had experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients, relatives or members of the public in 2017.
A further 37% said they had been verbally abused or harassed by a fellow member of staff.
Around 1,240 employees responded to the survey, which also asked workers about incidents of physical violence at work.
Physical violence from patients
One in seven respondents said that they had experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or members of the public.
Healthcare workers union, Unison, said that anyone threatening or abusing NHS staff “should be prosecuted”.
Head of health at Unison, Sara Gorton, said,
“No one should be abused, threatened or attacked at work – especially when all they’re trying to do is help people.”
NHS Violence Reduction Strategy
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has introduced the first NHS Violence Reduction Strategy, a series of measures designed to safeguard NHS workers against deliberate attacks and abuse.
Mr Hancock said it was “unacceptable” health workers had been subjected to violence and aggression.
The Department for Health and Social Care said that the NHS was partnering with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute offenders quickly under a “zero-tolerance” approach.
CQC to scrutinise
The Care Quality Commission will be scrutinising individual trusts based on their plans to reduce violence against staff and identify those that need further help to protect their employees.
The DHSC also said that a new system for recording assaults, and other incidents of abuse or harassment. Trusts will be expected to investigate incidents thoroughly.
He said that staff will also be provided with better training to deal with violent situations, and mental health support will be made available for victims of assault and abuse.
“I have made it my personal mission to ensure NHS staff feel safe and secure at work and the new violence reduction strategy will be a key strand of that.”
New Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act
The plans follow the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act earlier this year, which doubled the maximum prison sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from six months to a year.
England-wide, 15% of NHS employees experienced violence in 2017, the highest figure for five years.
Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, welcomed the new measures, saying:
“Patients and their families coming into emergency departments are often experiencing the worst day of their lives; worried, confused and often frustrated.
“This can be understandable. What is unacceptable though is when this spills over into violence.”
“Staff always seek to give the best care possible in a hugely pressurised environment – it is always wrong to lash out at those trying to help.”
Article shared by Data Reporter as part of OnTheWight’s collaboration with Press Association and Urbs Media