Attacks on NHS staff buck trend and rise

ATTACKS on NHS workers in Suffolk have increased by more than 13per cent in the space of a year, The Evening Star can reveal today.

ATTACKS on NHS workers in Suffolk have increased by more than 13per cent in the space of a year, The Evening Star can reveal today.

A total of 526 hospital workers, GPs, nurses and other staff were attacked between April last year and March this year, compared to 463 in the same period in the previous year.

The concerning statistics buck the national trend which showed a drop in attacks on staff of 2.8pc.

Those who appear in greatest danger are workers at the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership which recorded 442 attacks on employees in 05/06 compared to 407 the previous year.

Meanwhile the county's four primary care trusts, prior to this year's merger, experienced a 90pc rise with a combined total of 38 attacks on staff in 05/06 compared to 20 the previous year.

There was also an increase in attacks on staff at Ipswich Hospital which logged 46 assaults on staff in 05/06 compared to 36 last year.

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Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said staff safety is taken “very seriously” and measures are in place to try and guarantee the protection of workers.

She said: “For a long time we have had in place a range of measures designed to tackle difficult behaviour and physical or verbal abuse.

“That kind of behaviour is taken very seriously and we encourage people to report all instances.

“In the past we have been concerned that among staff there is a culture of this is what people are like.

“The fact we are encouraging people to report instances could directly account for some of the increase.

Ms Rowsell said there are two police officers dedicated to patrolling the hospital site and security guards are also present 24 hours a day, but there are no plans to introduce on-the-spot fines for bad behaviour like those currently being trialled at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Greater Manchester.

Ms Rowsell said: “Relatively the attacks are a very small number considering the hospital treats 300,000 to 400,000 people a year.”

Attacks reported include a male patient at a mental health ward managed by a primary care trust striking a male clinical support worker on the left temple. This resulted in the victim needing two days off work to recover.

The assailant was found guilty of common assault and given a six month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 compensation to the victim.

Gary Theobald, interim director of human resources at Suffolk Primary Care Trust, said: “The safety of our staff is paramount.

“We have got an incident reporting system and we give staff the maximum support if they are victims of abuse of any kind.

“We will look carefully at the figures as we are actively encouraging people to file reports.”


n Do you think enough is being done to protect the county's health workers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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