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Assault figures show NHS staff face a tinderbox of frustration and aggression

22 Dec 2016

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has commented on new figures from NHS Protect showing that attacks on NHS staff in England have risen sharply in the past year, with more than 70,000 assaults reported overall.

Jeannett Martin, Regional Director for RCN South West said: “One assault is one too many; employers must ensure the safety of their employees.  NHS staff do not go to work expecting to be assaulted and should not accept the risk of violence as part of the job. Every incident should be reported and taken seriously by employers so that, where appropriate, charges are brought and, in every case, lessons learned to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.”

Chris Cox, RCN Director of Membership Relations said: “With longer waits and the pressures of understaffed units, the atmosphere can become a tinderbox. Violence often has a lasting impact with threats and assaults leading to traumatised staff who need time off, or leave the profession - wards become still more short-staffed and patient care suffers.”

Assaults against staff cost the NHS more than £60 million per year which the RCN believes should be spent on addressing the factors that contribute to violence in the first place.