57 per cent rise in violence and aggression at Wigan hospitals

Wigan Infirmary - one of the hospitals where incidents of violence and aggression have increased
Wigan Infirmary - one of the hospitals where incidents of violence and aggression have increased

Nearly 500 incidents of violence and aggression were reported by hospital staff in a year, it has been revealed.

New figures show there were 485 reports made by staff at Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust in 2016-17.

It’s not only upsetting for staff, but can be distressing for other patients and cause delays in care

Pauline Law

That was a 57 per cent rise on the 309 incidents in the year before and nearly double the 266 reports made in 2014-15.

But it is thought the number of incidents has not actually increased - rather staff are becoming better at reporting them.

The figures have been released during the trust’s first Violence And Aggression Week, which started on Monday.

It aims to raise awareness of the impact it can have, challenge the perception that it is “part of the job” and protect staff.

Pauline Law, director of nursing, said: “Our doctors and nurses are here to help people who are sick and injured and in need of care. It’s completely unacceptable when the very people they are trying to help are rude, aggressive or violent.

“It’s not only upsetting for staff, but can be distressing for other patients and cause delays in care.

“No-one should expect to be physically or verbally abused at work and working in a hospital is no different.

“This campaign #NotTheNorm will work to eradicate the notion that it’s part of the job and help make WWL a safer place to work.”

While the trust is not thought to have more violence than other similar-sized organisations, staff were keen to stamp it out.

A Violence And Aggression Working Group was set up to address it and is spearheading this week’s #NotTheNorm campaign.

Incidents include physical violence towards members of staff, and workers sometimes experience assaults which are medically-related.

But staff have also been urged to report other incidents, such as verbal abuse by telephone from a patient’s relative and disruptive behaviour by visitors on a ward.

Work has been done over the past 12 months to highlight the issue, leading to the increased number of reports.

And the information is being collated so it can used to provide training on how to spot triggers and behaviour patterns to reduce the chances of assault and other aggression.

Vic Smith, a health and safety advisor heading the Violence And Aggression Working Group, said: “We view our staff as its most valuable asset and therefore any abuse, either physical or verbal, towards them is totally unacceptable.

“We are hoping that through this awareness week we will be able to show everyone that violence and aggression will not be tolerated as being ‘part of the job’.”