Patient-on-staff assaults rise in Suffolk’s mental health wards

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust encourages staff to report incidents of violence.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust encourages staff to report incidents of violence. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Assaults by patients on members of staff in Suffolk’s mental health wards have reached their highest level in three years.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust recorded 532 patient-on-staff assaults in 2013, 411 in 2014 and 638 last year.

More than 550 of these assaults over the three-year period happened in the trust’s facilities in Ipswich.

Jane Sayer, director of nursing, quality and patient safety, said the number of assaults on the trust’s staff was in line with other mental health organisations in the country that offer the same level of services.

She added: “We always encourage our staff to be proactive in regards to reporting any incidents – it is one of the ways that we are able to safeguard our patients and monitor safety and any emerging trends.

“We monitor all reported incidents very closely and work with our clinical teams to understand where we can improve.

“We also believe that a high rate of reporting incidents is a positive thing. It represents a culture of openness where staff feel they can raise issues and quickly put matters right.”

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Less than half of the total recorded assaults resulted in harm to the member of staff. Of these 786 incidents, police were contacted 49 times.

Ms Sayer added: “Following every reported assault, we will review and update – where necessary – a patient’s risk assessment to reflect any increased aggressive behaviour, or if their mental health condition requires a more secure environment. On the rare occasion of a serious assault, we encourage and support our staff to contact the police. Depending on the mental capacity of a patient, further criminal proceedings may take place.”