Published : 21 April 2016
The number of incidents has rocketed by 25% in the last five years and waiting time pressures could make things even worse for hard-pressed employees
Violence against NHS staff has rocketed over the past five years – with 186 attacks on dedicated doctors, nurses and paramedics every day.
Figures show NHS workers were subjected 67,874 assaults last year – 13,000 more than six years ago.
The number represents a 25% surge from 54,758 assaults in 2008-9, and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was tonight warned chronic hospital delays risk fuelling another rise.
The latest statistics from the NHS Business Services Authority reveal the shocking scale of daily violence in England’s hospitals, GP surgeries, ambulances and mental health units.
In the past 10 years there have been almost 600,000 physical attacks on NHS staff, according to just-published figures for 2014-15.
More than 19,000 attacks took place in hospitals – a staggering 53 a day.
Five ambulance workers were targeted every 24 hours, with 1,800 attacks on paramedics in the past 12 months.
There were 1,600 assaults in doctors’ practices over the last year, while another 45,000 attacks took place in mental health and learning disability centres – 124 a day.
The Royal College of Nursing’s senior employment relations advisor Kim Sunley said: “Nobody should be assaulted or intimidated whilst going about their daily work.
“The figures are alarming and yet more evidence of the overwhelming pressures on the NHS.
“With longer waiting times, and rising frustration, staff are too often a punch bag for a care system on the point of being overwhelmed.
“As well as causing pain and distress, assaults against staff cost the NHS around £60 million which could be better spent on improving patient care.”
The total number of attacks in 2014-15 dropped slightly compared with the previous 12 months -, with 819 fewer assaults or a fall of 1% from 68,683.
But the long-term trend suggests rising violence across the health care system.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “Staff committed to providing our NHS should never be expected to suffer an assault at work and it will not be tolerated.
“No member of staff should come to work in the NHS and be subjected to, or even fear, assault.
“The fact that assaults are increasing is a matter of grave concern.
“I am particularly concerned that this increase could be due, in part, to increased waiting times and an NHS which struggles to cope with the greater demands and less funding.”
UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “These figures show an unacceptable level of attacks on NHS employees. They should be able to care for patients without fearing for their own safety.
“Hospitals are getting busier, with patients waiting longer to be seen, but problems with inadequate staffing shouldn’t mean health workers are put at risk.
“Trusts must ensure proper support for NHS staff, who should also be encouraged to report all assaults to police.”
NHS Protect, which ‘leads on work to identify and tackle crime across the health service’, urged victims to report incidents to police.
Spokesman Richard Hampton said: “The figures show a small decrease in reported physical assaults since last year, but there is no room for complacency.
“We urge all health bodies, in all sectors, to take advantage of the joint working agreement with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. They can build local arrangements on this national agreement to ensure criminal assaults are identified and do not go unpunished.”
Link – http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/violence-against-nhs-staff-rockets-7804742