The ongoing problem of violence against NHS staff

The 2019 NHS Staff Survey reveals that 15 per cent of NHS staff experienced physical violence from members of the public and patients in the past year – this rises to 34 per cent among ambulance staff. And this happens disproportionately to black and minority ethnic staff – they are 14 per cent more likely to experience violence from members of the public or patients.

For those working in mental health and learning disability trusts, they are the group most likely to experience violence and report incidents of physical violence.

But still too many healthcare professionals (more than one in four: 28.5 per cent) said they had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or members of the public.

A joint agreement on offences

We are seeing “far too much violence” against our healthcare workforce, says Health and Care Secretary, Matt Hancock in his letter to the NHS team. The Health Secretary has confirmed that the NHS has “joined forces with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to approve a joint agreement on offences against emergency workers”. This he says will ensure that those who act violently and with criminal intent towards NHS staff are “swiftly brought to justice”. You can find out more on the joint agreement in an earlier blog published last month.

NHS leaders are called to support their staff, including enabling them to access any training they need and “use the full weight of the law” to protect their workplace.

The publication of the Staff Survey results comes as NHS England confirmed that “from April under NHS England’s new Standard Contract rules, NHS services will be able to protect staff by barring from non-emergency care any patient or visitor who inflicts discriminatory or harassing behaviour on staff. Previously, individual NHS organisations could only refuse services to patients if they were aggressive or violent.”

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