NHS to take a tougher stance over assaults on staff

Report shows a high number of assaults take place in A&E departments.
Report shows a high number of assaults take place in A&E departments.

More than 3,600 healthcare staff in Greater Glasgow and Clyde suffered verbal or physical assault while at work over the past 12 months despite a concerted and ongoing campaign to combat aggression.

The latest figures show a drop from 4,400 recorded incidents against NHS staff the previous year but health chiefs and staff representatives remain concerned at the high levels of abuse toward staff at work.

These new figures – released ahead of the Board’s Violence Reduction Group meeting on Thursday - are evidence that incidents of violence and aggression are a serious factor for healthcare workers. The Health Board hopes that by highlighting the extent of the incidents, it can help reduce and deter such incidents.

Anne MacPherson, Director of Human Resources, said: “Despite us introducing a range of measures to protect our staff we are unfortunately still seeing incidents of both physical and verbal abuse.

“In some instances staff have required support from Police Scotland because of the danger to their own and patients’ wellbeing,and that is unacceptable.

“As a Board we are committed to reducing and deterring such incidents as well as ensuring staff are trained to deal with situations when they do arise. We must do all we can to protect the delivery of healthcare 24-hours a day, seven days a week and enable staff to fulfil their duties without fear of assault or abuse.”

Charge Nurse Teresa Grainger, based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has experienced firsthand what it is like to be verbally abused by patients and, in some cases, their families.

Teresa said: “My colleagues and I are all too aware from personal experience what it is like to deal with an aggressive situation.

“But now having had violence and aggression training and our teamwork within the ward, we feel more able to deal with difficult situations effectively and efficiently. Thanks to the strong team working within the ward and a plan of action in place, situations are calmly dealt with.”

Kenneth Fleming, Head of Health and Safety, added: “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has a proactive Violence and Aggression Policy and also a Standards of Behaviour document, which states that our staff are entitled to work free of threats, assaults and intimidation. We take any act of physical or verbal abuse very seriously. Where staff are assaulted or abused while at work, whether in our hospitals or in the community, we fully support them and encourage them to pursue their abusers through the criminal justice system.”