HUNDREDS of NHS staff working in our region have been assaulted over the past year, as the number of such incidents continues to rise across the country.
At the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, 177 assaults were recorded meaning that for every 1,000 staff working at the organisation, 42 assaults were recorded.
The picture for the West Midlands Ambulance Service is even worse with 304 assaults reported in the last 12 months, 65 per 1,000 staff members.
West Midlands Ambulance Service head of security, Steve Elliker, said: “It is deeply disappointing to see the figures rising so rapidly. There are now just over 24 attacks per month, which is an appalling situation.
“It is extremely disappointing that any of our staff suffer at the hands of people they are trying to help.
“The Trust has a zero tolerance policy in place and works extremely hard to bring the full weight of the law to bear on anyone who attacks our staff. It is simply not acceptable that staff who are there to help people, suffer at the hands of patients, their relatives or other people at the scene.”
Helen Lancaster, Director of Nursing, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Employee safety is one of the Trust’s main priorities. We care about our staff because they enable us to deliver outstanding care to our patients. All Trust employees receive specialist training to help them effectively deal with aggressive behaviour.
“In addition, we have robust reporting procedures where staff are encouraged to report all incidents, whether near misses or actual assaults. Every reported assault is investigated and staff are provided with full support following any incident.
“Due to the nature of the conditions we treat, there is a risk to staff. However, we are proactively working and care planning with patients and families to minimise these risks.”
Overall more than 70,000 assaults were reported nationally in 2015/2016 and the Royal College of Nursing is urging the government to step in to tackle the problem.
Chris Cox, director of membership relations for the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Nursing staff are working in difficult enough conditions as it is this Christmas.
“It is unacceptable that going to work brings the threat of violence and danger.
“With longer waits and the pressures of understaffed units, the atmosphere can become a tinderbox. Violence often has a lasting impact with threats and assaults leading to traumatised staff who need time off, or leave the profession — wards become still more short-staffed and patient care suffers.
“Assaults against staff cost the NHS more than £60million per year which should be spent on attacking the factors that contribute to violence in the first place. It is likely that the reported assaults are just scratching the surface of the problem, with many not being reported because staff don’t believe that action will be taken. For this reason and to deter potential perpetrators, sanctions should always be imposed on those who wilfully hurt staff.
“The government needs to take action now and introduce a national programme to tackle violence head-on before this issue spirals out of control.”