Ipswich hospital attacks fall

MORE than 100 hospital workers in Suffolk were physically attacked while on-duty last year - despite an on-going crackdown on violent patients.However the number of attacks at Ipswich Hospital fell last year.

MORE than 100 hospital workers in Suffolk were physically attacked while on-duty last year - despite an on-going crackdown on violent patients.

However the number of attacks at Ipswich Hospital fell last year.

Sweeping measures have been introduced in the county's hospitals to protect staff from assault, including extra security officers and a fast-track system whereby offenders are prosecuted quickly.

But new figures reveal that 135 hospital staff in Suffolk were still assaulted during 2007/08.

Although most of the attacks were by patients who had no control over their physical outbursts, 64 were malicious - with alcohol and drugs responsible in most cases.

The Royal College of Nursing (RSN) said it was alarmed at the latest figures and warned Britain's binge-drinking culture was spilling into hospitals.

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Karen Webb, RCN director of the eastern region, said: “We are very worried and alarmed at the growing trend in violence towards healthcare workers, particularly nurses and healthcare assistants, often fuelled by alcohol and other substance misuse.”

She added: “We need to understand the binge-drinking culture is spilling into our public places, whether hospitals or schools and it's our nurses who are paying the price.”

Ipswich Hospital recorded 24 assaults on staff, which was a fall on the previous year's figure of 31.

Of the 24 assaults recorded against Ipswich Hospital staff this year, six were malicious and five of these took place in the hospital's accident and emergency department.

“It's pleasing that it's a small number but one is one too many because obviously hospitals are places of health care,” said a spokeswoman for the hospital.

“We encourage all our staff to report any incidents of verbal or physical abuse. We have a zero-tolerance approach and ask everyone to respect and treat each other with courtesy.”

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds saw the greatest amount of violence on staff last year with 111 assaults recorded - 53 of which were malicious. This represented two more assaults than the previous year.