This year’s attacks on east London mental health staff already above 2015 numbers, new data shows

Picture: Peter Byrne/PA.

Picture: Peter Byrne/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

There have been more attacks on east London’s mental health staff in 2019 so far than in the whole of 2015, new figures reveal.

A Freedom of Information request by this paper shows there have been 784 recorded assaults across the East London Foundation Trust from the beginning of the year to August 8.

Last year was the high water mark for attacks since 2015, with 1,088 incidents recorded.

Consistently, the worst places for incidents are Mile End's Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health and Plaistow's Newham Centre for Mental Health, which saw 240 and 179 respectively.

Mental health is far more hazardous than east London's mainstream NHS when it comes to assaults on staff. Barts Health, which provides hospitals to east London and is one of the largest NHS trusts in the UK, only saw 331 assaults on staff in the 12 months from April 2018.

Staff in the NHS' mental health services are more than seven times as likely to be attacked than in other NHS settings, according to a 2018 report by the Health Services Journal and the trade union Unison.

In response to the numbers, an ELFT spokesman said: "The East London Foundation Trust is working hard to reduce the amount of violent assaults on our staff. We take the safety and well-being of our staff very seriously and every incident is looked into with the utmost thoroughness.

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"Where necessary, legal action is followed to ensure that justice is done.​ However, a big factor in assaults on staff in our in-patient wards is that service users can be experiencing very high levels of anxiety or stress."

He added ELFT has launched projects aimed at both reducing violence and tackling its causes. He also emphasised it is working with patients to ensure care as good as it can be.

Violence against staff in east London's mainstream healthcare is also on the rise.

A report by this paper last August showed Barts Health facilities saw a 60 per cent rise in assaults from 2015/16 to 2018/19.

To address the national issue, heath secretary Matt Hancock announced the first NHS violence reduction strategy in late 2018.

It included the NHS working with prosecutors to speed up prosecutions and improving staff training to deal with violence.