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‘Far too much violence against NHS staff’ - calls for crackdown on hospital assaults

PUBLISHED: 15:20 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:31 18 February 2020

Hospital staff are known to face regular abuse. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Hospital staff are known to face regular abuse. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Archant © 2006

Too many frontline nurses, doctors and NHS staff are subjected to violence, health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has said - as he urged hospitals to take a zero tolerance approach to assaults.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has written to all NHS staff about assaults. Picture: PAHealth secretary Matt Hancock has written to all NHS staff about assaults. Picture: PA

Mr Hancock - who revealed he had witnessed abuse in A&Es and ambulances - wrote directly to all NHS staff after figures showed that more than one in 10 of staff nationally reported experiencing abuse from patients or members of the public.

Latest figures for Suffolk showed that there were 2,318 assaults in a year, the equivalent of six every day.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn CBE has previously threatened that "we may withdraw treatment unless it is an emergency" for those who are repeat offenders.

In his letter Mr Hancock, who has represented West Suffolk since 2010, appeared to back that approach - saying: "Of course, those with clinical conditions and lack of capacity must be cared for, and supported appropriately.

Paramedics have also been known to face attacks. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARYParamedics have also been known to face attacks. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

"Yet there is no reason why anyone who has capacity, yet is violent to staff, deserves the wonderful care of the NHS."

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He added: "There is far too much violence against NHS staff, and too much acceptance that it's part of the job.

"Far too often I hear stories that the people you are trying to help lash out. I've seen it for myself in A&Es, on night shifts, and on ambulances.

"I am horrified that any member of the public would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often."

Mr Hancock praised staff's "professionalism and resilience" for persevering after attacks but said: "We will not tolerate assaults, physical or verbal, against NHS colleagues - staff or volunteers.

"You should not tolerate violence or abuse either. Being assaulted or abused is not part of your job.

"I ask that you please ensure that you report every incident and act of abuse or violence against you or a colleague. No act of violence or abuse is minor."

The cabinet minister announced that a Joint Agreement on Offences Against Emergency Workers is being established with the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), to make it easier to bring offenders to justice.

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