1 in 4 NHS staff have been assaulted by patients.

A QUARTER of staff members in Southampton University Hospital have suffered abuse from patients according to the NHS staff survey.

These figures are 10% higher than the national average, which is the highest it has been in five years, making the University Hospital one of the least safe hospitals to work in the UK.

I spoke to Nicki Sparkes, a retired Emergency Nurse Practitioner, hasn’t been a victim of an assault but has witnessed one:

“The patient had dementia, it was an elderly man who thought the nurse was trying to hurt him and he hit her a few times before he could be restrained.”

The amount of assaults has increased 10% in the last year despite the NHS having a zero-tolerance policy on violence to staff.

Protection for staff is set to increase after the reveal of these statistics says the department of Health of Social Care.

They have announced a policy in which the NHS is working with the Crown Prosecution Service to help get prosecutions as quickly as possible as a way to deter violence against staff even more in an attempt to stop the large rise.

I asked Nurse Sparkes what she thought of the increase in numbers: “I’m not surprised, what with the increase in drug use, alcohol and homelessness. Also, there seems to be an increase in patients with mental health issues.”

Royal South Hants Hospital did not appear on the survey.
Royal South Hants Hospital did not appear on the survey.

Despite the increase however only 72% of staff across the country actually reported the last time they experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or the public.

On the government website the Secretary of Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has said he wants to solve that problem: “We will not shy away from the issue – we want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system.”

Despite this new position from the government there is still questions on whether or not anything will help the situation, with Nurse Sparkes telling us that it was her understanding there was already a zero-tolerance policy on violence in hospitals. She did mention the increased levels of security at bigger hospitals hoping that perhaps smaller establishments would get the same treatment in order to keep staff safe.


By Thomas Lewis