Healthier outlook for NHS violence

PUBLISHED: 13:22 03 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:55 06 May 2010

FEWER health service workers are experiencing abuse and violence at work, a new study is suggesting. Statistics from the Healthcare Commission reveal what looks like the first step towards a downward trend in NHS workers who are physically attacked, bulli

FEWER health service workers are experiencing abuse and violence at work, a new study is suggesting.

Statistics from the Healthcare Commission reveal what looks like the first step towards a downward trend in NHS workers who are physically attacked, bullied and harassed in their workplace.

Researchers found that 28 per cent of the NHS staff involved in the study said they had experienced either violence or abuse in the previous 12 months, down from 31 per cent in 2004 and 32 per cent in 2003.

But the survey also highlights the problem of staff failing to report incidents of violence and abuse.

And it revealed that only half of NHS workers felt their employer would take effective action if staff were physically attacked.

The commission said the figures indicated that still more must be done to tackle the problem of abuse in NHS workplaces.

"NHS trusts must continue to work hard in addressing this very concerning issue to ensure that this positive start becomes a sustained trend," said chief executive Anna Walker.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said it was encouraging that the NHS was getting to grips with the problem of violence and abuse against staff.

He also pointed to a 15-fold increase in prosecutions and 250,000 staff trained in conflict resolution.

"However, there is still more work to do," he conceded.

"Violence and abuse are not part of any NHS job description and will no longer be tolerated by its staff."

Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: "The survey is a useful barometer of how NHS staff are being treated at work and, in particular, highlights areas where more work needs to be done."

She said it was heartening to see the small drop in the number of cases of violence against staff.

But she added: "It is still shocking that 12 per cent have been subject to physical violence and 26 per cent have been harassed or bullied by patients or relatives, and while the drop is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to bring the problem under control."

The Royal College of Nursing's general secretary, Dr Beverly Malone, said: "This issue has got to be taken seriously. Nurses need to know that if they report violence, harassment or bullying, then they get support and see action to stop it.


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