Rise in attacks on hospital staff

By James HoreMORE than 300 NHS staff have been subjected to violent attacks while working in Essex hospitals, new figures have revealed. Simon Burns, the West Chelmsford MP, described the number of incidents as “totally unacceptable”.

By James Hore

MORE than 300 NHS staff have been subjected to violent attacks while working in Essex hospitals, new figures have revealed.

Simon Burns, the West Chelmsford MP, described the number of incidents as “totally unacceptable”.

He was responding to figures that showed the number of violent confrontations in hospital in mid Essex had jumped from 94 to 171 between 2000 and 2003. There were also 37 more physical assaults last year, taking the total over 200.


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In one case a man was jailed for six months after he attacked a member of staff at the accident and emergency department at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.

Essex Rivers NHS Healthcare Trust, which runs Colchester General and Essex County Hospitals in Colchester, said more than 100 staff had been victims of physical assaults between 2002 and 2004.

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Although some attacks took place in the accident and emergency department, many of the incidents were on wards dealing with elderly patients who were more likely to feel threatened by their treatment.

Mr Burns said: “I am deeply disturbed that between 2000 and 2003 the number of violent incidents against NHS staff in mid Essex almost doubled.

“This is totally unacceptable as doctors, nurses, consultants and auxiliary staff do a fantastic job caring for patients and vulnerable people.

“I only hope that, due to increased security, the level of violent incidents is falling because one incident is one incident too many.”

A spokeswoman for Mid Essex Hospital Trust, which runs Broomfield and St John's Hospitals in Chelmsford, said: “What normally happens is that security will be called and they will try to diffuse the situation.

“If it is the condition of the patient which is causing a problem, they will try to resolve it there and then. If a patient is being particularly violent or aggressive, they would then take it forward with legal proceedings and prosecution if necessary.”

Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, which has a “zero tolerance” policy, said staff reported all incidents of verbal and physical abuse.

A spokesman added: “We have a good record on these things, partly because of the area where we live and we do a lot of training for staff in aggression management, which means they are good at diffusing difficult situations.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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