The 2014-2015 figures for reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England have been issued by NHS Protect based on statistics provided by all NHS Trusts. In total, there have been 67,864 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England in 2014-2015, representing a small reduction of 819 from 68,683 in 2013-2014.
Criminal sanctions following reported assaults increased slightly in the same 2014-2015 period to 1,679 (up by 30 from 1,649 in 2013-2014), but have increased noticeably since the pre-2004 period. 2014-2015 is also the first year that civil and administrative sanctions have been reported (there were 1,077 of them).
Richard Hampton, head of external engagement and services at NHS Protect, commented: “No member of NHS staff should be physically assaulted, and we encourage those members of staff who are the victims of violence to report it such that the appropriate action can be taken.”
Hampton added: “While it’s encouraging to see the total figure on physical assaults heading in the right direction, there’s no room for complacency. We urge all health bodies in all sectors to take advantage of the joint working agreement with the police service and the Crown Prosecution Service. They can build local arrangements on this national agreement to ensure criminal assaults are identified and do not go unpunished.”
Non-reporting of violent incidents
The 2014 NHS staff survey shows a possible 34% non-reporting of incidents of violence. Albeit a lower percentage than the previous year, it’s reasonable to assume that some under-reporting of physical assaults has occurred.
Hampton explained what will be done to better protect staff in NHS mental health settings. Specifically, a new partnership protocol is being orchestrated between NHS Protect, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Crown Prosecution Service and launched in the very near future.
“It’s designed to help the NHS, the police service and the Crown Prosecution Service work together to respond to incidents of crime,” asserted Hampton, “investigate and then take appropriate cases forward for prosecution in this sector.”
NHS Protect has been included in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 with powers to apply for civil injunctions on behalf of NHS health bodies for the purposes of preventing individuals from engaging in anti-social behaviour on NHS premises.
Key action points for NHS organisations
NHS Protect is also encouraging NHS organisations to:
*work locally with the police and other outside organisations to deal with lower-level anti-social and nuisance behaviour, including alcohol-related incidents, by using Community Safety Accreditation Schemes
*ensure that members of staff are trained to meet NHS Protect’s conflict resolution training standards in order that they might calmly defuse and de-escalate situations
*use available powers to respond decisively to lower level aggression before it escalates into violence against staff (under the Terms and Conditions of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008)
*take help and advice from NHS Protect’s network of Area Security Management Specialists (they provide guidance to local security managers and assist in assessing risks of assault, addressing them through prevention work and pursuing legal action when assaults do occur)
*use NHS Protect’s ‘Meeting Needs and Reducing Distress: Guidance on the Prevention and Management of Clinically-Related Challenging Behaviour in NHS Settings’
*be aware that NHS Protect has been included in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in order to provide new tools for dealing with persistent anti-social behaviour within the NHS