DUTY OF CARE: The rise in violence against NHS workers has been blamed on frustrations due to delays and inadequate staffing levels
Money-Advice-Trust

by NADEEM BADSHAH

CALLS FOR ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY ON ASSAULTS

LEADING doctors have called for a campaign to tackle the rising num­ber of NHS workers being attacked while at work.

Hospital trusts in England reported 56,500 assaults in 2016-2017, up 10 per cent on year before, which has been blamed on frustration from patients due to delays and understaffing.

There were 18,720 assaults on hos­pital trust staff during 2016-17, 21 per cent more than the 15,469 the previ­ous year, according to figures obtained by the trade union Unison.

Nurses, paramedics and mental health staff are among those most like­ly to be victims.

Dr Sanjiv Nichani, a consultant pae­diatrician in Leicester, told Eastern Eye: “There should be a public educa­tion campaign with clearly set out consequences of such behaviour.

“The vast majority of NHS staff is highly professional and they are ex­tremely caring despite working in a very difficult environment and under significant pressure.

“There is virtually no excuse for verbal or physical abuse of staff and there should be a zero-tolerance policy to that effect because working in fear will only compromise patient safety.”

It comes after separate research showed growing numbers of ambu­lance staff are being sexually assaulted at work or having lewd comments made to them.

The number of incidents involving ambulance workers in England has almost trebled from 52 in 2012-13 to 145 in 2017-18. Figures from eight of the 10 NHS regional ambulance ser­vices in England show there were 662 physical and verbal sexual assaults between April 2012 and February 2018, with the annual number rising year on year over that period.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE, honorary vice-president of the British Medical Association, told Eastern Eye: “I have more than 35 years’ experience in the front line of the NHS and it is really sad that violence against doctors, nurses and paramedics is on the increase.

“NHS staff work incredibly hard in a high-pressure environment and it is completely unacceptable for them to be subject to aggression or violence.

“The government needs to do more than lip service.”

In a statement, NHS England said: “It is completely unacceptable that a nurse, paramedic, porter or any mem­ber of NHS staff should be assaulted physically or verbally as they care for patients. NHS England continues to work with trusts and any of our staff affected, to help the police and other authorities do everything needed when an assault takes place.”

Meanwhile, NHS trusts have warned that patients will suffer be­cause the Home Office is preventing foreign doctors from coming to work and train in Britain.

Hospital bosses have asked health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd (when she was home secretary) to overturn a decision to refuse visas for 100 Indian doctors involved in a programme allowing medical profes­sionals to work in the NHS while com­pleting postgraduate study here.

The heads of 35 NHS trusts have written a letter claiming that denying the visas would crank up the pressure on medics.

Dr Sanjay Arya, medical director at the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh trust in Greater Manchester, said: “It will have a very huge impact on pa­tient care and on patients safety.

“I see it every day that there are gaps on the rota. The existing doctors are working long hours, which is very tir­ing and makes them an unsafe doctor.

“If we had the pool of highly quali­fied doctors coming from overseas, it is only going to help our patients and our NHS.”

Doctors are classed as Tier 2 visa applicants by the Home Office.

A Home Office spokeswoman said any applications refused in over-sub­scribed months can be applied for again in future months.