NHS Protect has released the 2013-2014 figures for reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England. The figures have been collated from 266 health bodies across the country.
The number of criminal sanctions following reported assaults has risen by 191, from 1,458 to 1,649 – an increase of 13.1%. Overall, there was a rise of 8.7% in total reported assaults from 63,199 in 2012-2013 to 68,683 in 2013-2014. A full breakdown of the results is available at: http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/Documents/SecurityManagement/Reported_Physical_Assaults_2013-14.pdf
Richard Hampton, head of external engagement and services at NHS Protect, commented: “No member of NHS staff should be physically assaulted, and we encourage staff who are victims of violence to press charges against their assailants. Those who work in the NHS have the right to provide care in a safe environment. Employers must do all they can to support staff in preventing incidents and pursuing offenders.”
Advice for health bodies
NHS Protect is urging health bodies to:
• Note that NHS Protect’s guidelines entitled: ‘Meeting Needs and Reducing Distress – Guidance on the Prevention and Management of Clinically-Related Challenging Behaviour in NHS Settings’ was launched in December 2013 and provides NHS staff with the tools to de-escalate and reduce challenging behaviour within the NHS
• Take advantage of the joint working agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service and use existing guidance to pursue local arrangements building on this national agreement in order to ensure criminal assaults are identified and do not go unpunished
• Seek advice from the network of NHS Protect’s Area Security Management Specialists. They give guidance to Local Security Management Specialists and assist in assessing risks of violence, addressing these through prevention work and pursuing legal action when assaults do occur
• Ensure staff are trained to use available powers to respond decisively to low-level nuisance behaviour before it escalates into violence against staff (these powers are available under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008)
• Be aware that NHS Protect has been included in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in order to provide new tools for dealing with persistent anti-social behaviour within the NHS
Cheshire and Merseyside deal signed to protect NHS staff
A new agreement to help protect nurses, doctors, ambulance crews and other NHS staff from assault and abuse in Cheshire and Merseyside has been signed.
The Service Level Agreement between the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Mersey-Cheshire and NHS Protect commits both bodies to working closely together to ensure that people who attack NHS staff are prosecuted wherever appropriate. This helps implement the national joint working agreement between the Association of Chief Police Officers, the CPS and NHS Protect.
The Mersey-Cheshire Service Level Agreement aims to strengthen the prosecution process, recognising that there’s a strong public interest in prosecuting those who assault NHS staff or commit other offences that disrupt the provision of NHS services to the public.
John Mytton, North West Area Security Management Specialist for NHS Protect, said: “CPS Mersey-Cheshire and NHS Protect have worked hard to reach this point, with both of the CPS regions in the North West now covered by this agreement. We will continue to support health bodies to ensure that all incidents of violence and aggression against staff are addressed and appropriate sanctions brought forward wherever possible. This will improve the confidence and well-being of those who work in the NHS and their patients.”
Claire Lindley, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, added: “No NHS worker should have to do their job in fear of being assaulted. Some staff may feel that these assaults are part and parcel of their work and that they simply have to put up with them. This is not the case. We also know that some NHS staff mistakenly believe that nothing will be done if they report assaults. This is also not the case.”
Lindley continued: “This agreement shows the commitment of the NHS and the Crown Prosecution Service to making sure that the people who commit these assaults are brought to justice. We hope it gives people the confidence to report incidents and that offenders get the message – you will be caught and made to face the consequences.”