113 attacks on NHS staff

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

MORE than 100 members of staff have been physically assaulted while working for the NHS in Wigan, new figures have revealed.

The figures, released by NHS Protect, which works to protect NHS staff and resources from crime, show that 113 members of staff were assaulted at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) in 2014/15.

Any abuse – both physical and verbal - towards our staff is totally unacceptable. Staff are encouraged to report all incidents of harassment and violence to our security team

Jason Carr

Of those, 108 were involving medical factors where the patient did not know what they were doing, or did not know what they were doing was wrong, due to medical illness, mental ill health, severe learning disability or treatment administered.

WWL employs a total of 4,841, meaning its average is 23 per 1,000 members of staff, well below the national average of 52 per 1,000 members of staff.

Jason Carr head of security and car parks said: “The trust views its staff as its most valuable asset.

“Therefore, any abuse – both physical and verbal - towards our staff is totally unacceptable. Staff are encouraged to report all incidents of harassment and violence to our security team.

“In April 2011, NHS Protect was established to lead on work to safeguard NHS staff and resources from crime. They provide support, advice and guidance to organisations across the NHS. “

The figures also show that only two of the assaults led to declared criminal sanctions such as cautions and conditional cautions, community rehabilitation fines or imprisonment (including suspended sentences).

Three of the assaults led to declared civil and administrative sanctions which include acceptable behaviour agreements, banning from premises and injunctions.

Mr Carr continued: “We are working in partnership with NHS Protect and Greater Manchester Police to establish a safe and secure environment to protect our staff from violence, harassment and abuse.

“This year, WWL has continued with Operation Connect which will see GMP Police Officers in our Accident and Emergency over the busiest Christmas period to deter acts of violence and aggression.

“This will also give reassurance to our patients, visitors and staff. In previous years this has been really well received by our staff who have built good working relationships with the Police and as a result found it easier to report crime or incidents of anti-social behaviour.

“Police assistance will always be requested when violent incidents occur and WWL will support staff that wish to bring prosecutions against the offenders, who are responsible for acts of violence and aggression against our staff. It is hoped that doctors, nurses and all staff at WWL and our patients will feel significantly reassured that our on-going work to provide a safe, effective and caring environment has resulted in closer working relationship with GMP and sanctions being opposed on offenders.”

The figures also showed that 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services in Wigan, Halton, Knowsley, St Helens and Warrington, recorded well over the national average with 284 per 1,000 members of staff being assaulted.

In total, 1,007 of 5 Boroughs’ 3,550 staff were assaulted, but 1,002 of them involved a medical factor.

Meanwhile Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, which provide health services across the same area, saw only 15 assaults on its staff in total, equating to five per 1,000 staff.

In total, there have been 67,864 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England in 2014-15 (a small reduction of 819 from 68,683 in 2013-14).

Richard Hampton, Head of External Engagement and Services at NHS Protect, said: “No NHS staff should be physically assaulted and we encourage staff who are victims of violence to report it, so that appropriate action can be taken.

“While it is encouraging to see the total figure going in the right direction there is no room for complacency after this small reduction in reported assaults.

“We urge all health bodies, in all sectors, to take advantage of the joint working agreement with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. They can build local arrangements on this national agreement to ensure criminal assaults are identified and do not go unpunished.”