Clampdown on violence against NHS staff

Clampdown on violence against NHS staff

31/10/2018

This news piece was originally published  here

NHS staff are to be given better training and tools such as body cameras in dealing with violent situations and offenders will be prosecuted more quickly.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS will adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to violence against its staff.

A bill to double the sentence for assaults on emergency workers from six months to a year is shortly expected to become law too.

Sharon Morris, a nurse for more than 30 years, was attacked in the medium security mental health unit where she worked. The effect on her life has been profound.

It was in 2016 that the abuse happened and she still experiences flashbacks and nightmares.

"It was a patient I had been working with for a year and it all happened out of the blue. He went to attack a colleague and I stepped in.

"I remember him hitting and punching me in the head and then I passed out."

Sharon was off sick for three months and it took another three months after that for her to feel safe enough to work with patients again.

"The worst bit is the psychological side. It's made me feel very wary of people. For a while I would see my assailant's face in other young men - even my eldest son, who is physically quite similar.

"There are still things that make me anxious now. I can't read or watch things like crime programmes that contain a lot of violence."

Nurse Shelley Pearce was "taken hostage" by an alcoholic patient on an acute ward, who held a piece of broken plastic against her throat.

She has also experienced other serious assaults, including being head-butted.

Speaking to the Royal College of Nursing, Mr Hancock will outline how the new strategy will work:

Offenders to be prosecuted quickly as a result of new partnership between the NHS, Police and Crown Prosecution Service

Care inspectors will scrutinise NHS trusts on quality of plans to reduce violence against staff

Better training for staff to deal with violent situations, including challenging circumstances involving patients with dementia or mental health issues

NHS England will also look at national data to determine which staff are most vulnerable to violence and what more needs to be done.

Mr Hancock says: "We will not shy away from the issue - we want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system."

Royal College of Nursing National Officer, Kim Sunley said: "Nurses and health care workers understand their roles aren't risk-free but - to many - it still seems as if the threat of physical violence is a daily reality.

"These measures are another way to change this for good by increasing the accountability of employers for the safety of their staff, and ensuring those who wilfully assault healthcare workers feel the full force of the law."

Body cameras are also being used by NHS Hospitals in a bid to improve patient and staff safety. Berrywood Hospital have published a paper that outlines positve feedback from using body cameras in an inpatient setting.

Learn more about how Calla body cameras are making a difference in hospitals

 

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