Published figures show steep rise in reported assaults against NHS staff

Published figures show steep rise in reported assaults against NHS staff

20/04/2018

This news piece was first published here

Figures obtained by UNISON and HSJ reported physical assaults on staff of 56,435 in 2016/17, a 9.7% increase on the 2016/16 data.

If these figures are extrapolated to cover the whole of the NHS in England, the number of reported violent incidents in 2016/17 is likely to be closer to 75,000, the equivalent of 200 every single day.

The biggest increase was in the acute sector, with reported attacks on health workers in hospitals with an A&E department up a staggering 21%, says UNISON. There were 18,720 assaults in 2016/17 in the acute trusts who responded, compared to 15,469 the previous year.

Commenting on the figures, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Across the entire NHS, staff shortages are harming patient care and helping to create a hostile environment where health workers are increasingly at risk of being assaulted.

“It’s no accident that trusts where the pressures seem the most extreme – where there are huge financial deficits or where it’s a struggle to meet growing demands on services – have seen the steepest rise in the number of attacks. This desperate situation is only set to worsen as the squeeze on resources gets tighter.

“Now that there is no NHS or government organisation collecting data on assaults nationally, the picture is growing increasingly unclear. The safety of staff, who care for us when we are sick or injured, and their patients should be paramount. The government should reverse its ill-thought out decision to axe NHS Protect immediately”

Although staff working in mental health are seven and a half times more likely to be attacked, this was a smaller increase from 2015/16 of 5%. This seems to suggest the sector is having some success in preventing a difficult situation from getting any worse.

Berrywood Psychiatric Hospital, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, introduced body cameras last year as a means to reduce aggression against staff. The Trust have published a paper from their experience that outlines posiitve feedback from using Calla body cameras in an inpatient setting, including:

“I think it prevents lots of aggression and puts patients’ minds at ease knowing there is a record of what happened.”

“I have seen a few occasions where the incident had deescalated and believe this to have been helped by the camera being turned on.”

"I can see nothing but positives from it with recourse to its potential in reducing/ deescalating violent incidents.”

Dr. Alex O’Neill-Kerr – Clinical Medical Director, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said “Improving patient and staff safety, coupled with improving the quality of care afforded are key priorities for us and we are always striving to find innovative ways to achieve those objectives. As this study has proven, body worn cameras could play an integral role in accomplishing those goals.” 

Learn more about how Calla cameras can reduce assaults and protect staff

 

Back to All News