Three assaults a day on NHS staff

THERE are more than three assaults every day on NHS staff working across Suffolk and North Essex, new figures reveal today.

Naomi Gornall

THERE are more than three assaults every day on NHS staff working across Suffolk and North Essex, new figures reveal today.

More than 70% of the attacks reported nationwide are on those employed in mental health services, according to statistics released yesterdayby the NHS Security Management Service.

In total it revealed there were 1,396 assaults on NHS staff in Suffolk and North Essex for 2008/9 over a 12-month period.

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Nationally there were 54,758 reported attacks on those working in hospitals, primary care trusts, ambulance services and mental health services, which is a decrease of 1,235 from 2007/8 figures.

There were 329 physical assaults on staff working in mental health, substance misuse and learning disability services in Suffolk and two people who committed attacks were prosecuted.

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Bob Bolas, Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust's director of nursing and deputy chief executive, said: “The safety of our staff is extremely important, and people providing health services should not have to expect to suffer violence at work.

“We are pleased that our staff do report incidents if they happen and have confidence that we will follow these up.

“Over the past few months, we have been working with staff who have been assaulted in developing a formal structure for supporting victims. This support includes plans to improve access to psychological support, time away to recover and other practical help.”

The figures for North East Essex PCT show there were 271 assaults-which was the second highest out of all the UK's PCTs.

Ryan Taylor, risk manager at NHS North East Essex, said: “All but a small handful of the assaults on staff within NHS North East Essex occurred within the learning disability service, which we host.

“We are continually seeking to reduce the number of what we refer to as 'clinical assaults' by learning disability clients.”

Dermid McCausland, managing director of the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service, said: “Many will welcome the reduction in reported assaults this year. But the NHS is not complacent. We have more work to do to let all NHS staff know they should not accept violence as part of their job. We continue to maintain our efforts to protect staff.”

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