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Abuse against NHS staff in east London hospitals twice the national average

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 November 2018

Romford Town centre gv's. Queen's Hospital

Romford Town centre gv's. Queen's Hospital

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NHS staff at hospitals across east London are almost twice as likely to be victims of abuse as the national average, according to the results of an England-wide healthcare survey.

Across England, 15 per cent of NHS employees experienced violence in 2017, the highest figure for five years.

But the average figure for east London’s three largest NHS trusts boils down to 29pc.

Barts Health Trust, which runs Mile End, Whipps Cross and Newham University Hospitals and serves the boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, is the largest NHS health trust in the capital.

A whopping 7,120 of its employees completed the 2017 NHS Staff Survey, and worryingly, 31pc of these reported suffering harrassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives of patients or members of the public.

Newham General Hospital,Newham General Hospital,

One in eight also claimed to have suffered incidents of physical violence from members of the public while at work.

The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT), which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, had 2,870 members of staff complete the survey.

Of those, 29pc reported they had suffered bullying and abuse from members of the public in the course of doing their duties, with one in eight – the same proportion as at Barts – revealing they had also been physically abused.

At the North East London Foundation Trust (Nelft), which provides mental health care for Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, around 3,500 members of staff completed the survey, with 26pc of these reporting they had experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients, relatives or members of the public.

Whipps Cross University HospitalWhipps Cross University Hospital

And one in ten admitted they had suffered physical violence from a patient or other member of the public during their shifts.

A Nelft spokeswoman confirmed the trust already operates a “zero tolerance” approach to violence against staff.

She added: “The trust has clear and supportive processes for staff who may be victims of a workplace assault, these include dedicated HR support and where appropriate, counselling.

“As part of this approach we have recently refreshed the zero tolerance posters in all of our premises as a clear statement of intent.

King George Hospital in Goodmayes. Photo: Ken MearsKing George Hospital in Goodmayes. Photo: Ken Mears

“Nelft therefore welcomes the health secretary’s announcement of a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to violence against NHS staff.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock has introduced the first NHS Violence Reduction Strategy, a series of measures designed to safeguard NHS workers against deliberate attacks and abuse.

Mr Hancock said it was “unacceptable” health workers had been subjected to violence and aggression.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that the NHS was partnering with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute offenders quickly under a “zero-tolerance” approach.

King George Hospital in Goodmayes. Photo: Ken MearsKing George Hospital in Goodmayes. Photo: Ken Mears

The Care Quality Commission will be scrutinising individual trusts based on their plans to reduce violence against staff and identify those that need further help to protect their employees.

The DHSC also said that a new system for recording assaults, and other incidents of abuse or harassment. Trusts will be expected to investigate incidents thoroughly.

He said that staff will also be provided with better training to deal with violent situations, and mental health support will be made available for victims of assault and abuse.

He said: “NHS staff dedicate their lives to protecting and caring for us in our times of greatest need and for any one of them to be subject to aggression or violence is completely unacceptable.”

Romford Town centre gv's. Queen's HospitalRomford Town centre gv's. Queen's Hospital

“I have made it my personal mission to ensure NHS staff feel safe and secure at work and the new violence reduction strategy will be a key strand of that.”

Healthcare workers union Unison said that anyone threatening or abusing NHS staff “should be prosecuted”.

Head of health Sara Gorton said: “NHS staff spend their working days caring and saving lives, and their safety should be paramount.

“No one should be abused, threatened or attacked at work - especially when all they’re trying to do is help people.”

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