New law call as attacks on NHS staff rise

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The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust. Pic © Google Maps

The number of assaults on NHS staff in England has almost doubled over the past six years, according to new research.

Figures reveal that there were 20,018 attacks on staff in England in 2015-16, with an average 25% increase across local NHS trusts.

Now, hospital bosses throughout the country are calling for an end to attacks on staff as campaigner group 38 Degrees urged the Government to consider new laws to create a specific offence similar to assaults on police officers.

The 38 Degrees investigation revealed that out of the top 10 NHS trusts with the worst assault cases, The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool was the highest with a 1,087% increase.

A representative from the Walton Centre NHS Foundation trust said: “Our trust takes violence against our staff very seriously. As we deal with patients who often have complex neurological conditions, sometimes and regrettably assaults on staff do happen. We ensure our staff are well supported to deal with these challenging situations, and we encourage them to report these assaults if they happen.”

Laura Townsend, Director at 38 Degrees, said: “This investigation exposes the urgent need to make sure British law protects NHS staff just as much as they care for us. Making assaults against NHS staff a specific offence would act as a deterrent and could help halt this shocking rise in attacks.

She added: “Being a doctor, nurse or midwife in today’s NHS is hard enough as it is; it’s time MPs stood up for the staff that keep our health service going.”

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Jessica Berry, a healthcare assistant at Whiston Hospital, believes the increase in attacks is down to a rise in the number of people drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

She told JMU Journalism: “It’s these kind of patients that I come into contact with that are the most violent, especially detoxing alcoholics and patients withdrawing from drug abuse.

“I have been both physically and verbally abused by a patient multiple times, however a number of these incidents have involved dementia and delirium patients who have lacked capacity and may have been unable to control their own actions.”

However, despite this, Jessica explained that she does feel safe going into work as there are measures in place to protect NHS staff, such as onsite security who attend immediately if staff are in immediate danger.

About Rosie Steedman, JMU Journalism