Nearly a third of NHS workers at Kettering General Hospital face harassment, bullying and abuse from patients

editorial image

Nearly a third of NHS staff at Kettering General Hospital experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients last year, figures show.

The Government has announced new measures to better protect health service staff in England, calling for a “zero tolerance” approach.

Responses to the latest NHS Staff Survey show that 30% of workers at the Kettering General Hospital NHS Trust said they had experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients, relatives or members of the public in 2017.

A further 28% said they had been verbally abused or harassed by a fellow member of staff.

Around 1,390 employees responded to the survey, which also asked workers about incidents of physical violence at work.

One in eight respondents said that they had experienced physical violence from patients, relatives or members of the public.

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

Head of health Sara Gorton said: “No one should be abused, threatened or attacked at work - especially when all they’re trying to do is help people.”

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 said that the NHS was partnering with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute offenders quickly under a “zero-tolerance” approach.

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: “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.”

The plans follow the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act earlier this year, which doubled the maximum prison sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from six months to a year.

England-wide, 15% of NHS employees experienced violence in 2017, the highest figure for five years.

Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, welcomed the new measures, saying: “Patients and their families coming into emergency departments are often experiencing the worst day of their lives; worried, confused and often frustrated.

“This can be understandable. What is unacceptable though is when this spills over into violence.”

He added: “Staff always seek to give the best care possible in a hugely pressurised environment - it is always wrong to lash out at those trying to help.”