Ipswich: MP speaks out over increase in threats of violence against hospital workers

AN MP has blasted patients who threaten to attack hospital medics after a Star probe found that the result of physical and verbal assaults on staff meant 75 working days were lost.

New figures have revealed that the number of clinical and malicious threats of violence and incidents of actual violence against employees at Ipswich Hospital had crept up in the past two years from 165 to 214 incidents.

The statistics show that clinical threats of violence – when a patient is unknowingly making threats – have risen from 39 incidents in 2010/11 to 58 in 2011/12.

Meanwhile, malicious threats – when a patient is aware they are making such threats – has also increased from 53 to 64.

In total, 75 days were lost in the past two years as a result of attacks and threats of attacks on staff members.

The rise in malicious attacks has prompted MP Ben Gummer to warn those responsible that action will be taken against those who abuse staff.

He said he hoped the judicial service would take the necessary action against the perpetrators.

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The figures, which were released following a Freedom of Information request, also show that the number of incidents of physical violence which were deemed as malicious has halved in the past two years from six reported incidents to three.

However, clinical physical violence has seen a 32 per cent rise from 67 incidents in 2010/11 to 89 incidents in 2011/10.

Mr Gummer said: “I hope the hospital is and has been seeking to prosecute in every single case of malicious violence.

“I hope the courts deal with them all accordingly for these incidents.

“On the issues of clinical threats of violence I think this shows that the integrated care system of our hospitals and mental health workers in this situation is not adequately coping with some of its vulnerable patients.”

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said “one incident is always one incident too many”, but said staff were encouraged to report incidents that arise.

She said: “Sometimes our patients make threats and they are not knowingly doing so, whether it be because they are on medication or for a number of other reasons and they are dealt with as clinical incidents

“I think the rise is due to members of staff being encouraged to report incidents. We have a zero tolerance approach to threats of violence to our staff and we want them to report incidents.

“One incident is always one too many especially when are staff are doing their jobs and they have been abused. We have a fastrack system in place with the police in regards to prosecutions and the same with the justice system. This means that people who are prosecuted against get dealt with quickly.”

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to starletters@archant.co.uk

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