NHS bosses have pledged to enforce a “zero tolerance” approach to violence after assaults on staff were slammed as “disgraceful.”
The majority of the 1,300 assaults in central Lancashire’s health services involved Lancashire Care Trust staff. Of the 1,200 incidents recorded, 850 involved ‘medical factors’ which may have made patients lash out. Twenty people faced criminal proceedings and 41 underwent ‘civil or administrative sanctions’.
We were trying to explain why she was there and she grabbed me by my hair and was moving my head from side to side.
NHS Protect, which looks at staff security, has announced a new partnership with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Crown Prosecution Service to better protect staff in NHS mental health settings.
The organisation’s Richard Hampton said: “It is designed to help the NHS, police and CPS work together to respond to incidents of crime, investigate and take appropriate cases forward for prosecution in this sector.”
One nurse who works for Lancashire Care said she was attacked by a patient who was distressed and didn’t understand why she was in hospital.
The nurse said: “We were trying to explain why she was there and she grabbed me by my hair and was moving my head from side to side.
“She was very distressed and upset.”
The nurse was able to pull her alarm, and colleagues helped to “de-escalate” the situation and stop any more damage.
She said: “Often the aggression and violence is not directed at the individual, it’s just the person who’s there.
“It’s not personal, it’s directed at the way they feel at the time.
“I think it’s the level of distress that the person is experiencing at that moment in time. “I think the more time you spend with them, the more you learn what upsets them.
“I’ve never been in a position where I’ve felt it was directed at me.”
Matt Joyes, associate director of patient safety and quality governance at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Trust takes the safety of staff and patients extremely seriously and over recent years has been working to increase awareness and promote an understanding of the appropriate safety measures to keep people safe.
“Violence and aggression towards staff is not tolerated and the Trust works closely with partners such as the police to ensure that incidents are dealt with and learned from to prevent them from reoccurring.
“The Trust provides training for staff in violence reduction which provides practical tools to address threats and deal with instances in a safe and appropriate way.
“This includes ways to work with patients in order to identify opportunities during their care to help them manage their anger and prevent violent incidents from occurring.
“The Trust promotes an open and honest culture and encourages the reporting of any incidents that put the safety of staff or patients at risk.
“Traditionally Trusts that provide mental health services do report a higher number of physical assaults on staff than acute hospital Trusts and this can contribute towards an increase in the number of incidents recorded.”
Nationally, there were 67,864 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England in 2014-15, a small reduction of 819 from 68,683 in 2013-14.
Chancellor George Osborne this week pledged an extra £600m for mental health services.