Violence and Aggression in the NHS

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2003 Health Care Service Group Conference
1 December 2002
Carried as Amended

We welcome the work that has already been undertaken to raise awareness of violence within the NHS. The Governments introduction of zero tolerance is a good place to start but does not reflect challenges that the NHS faces today.

In recent press we have seen nurses and healthcare support workers attacked in their place of work. It is essential that stiffer penalties are placed against people whose violent actions impact on healthcare workers.

At the moment we believe that NHS organisations are reluctant to prosecute someone with a mental illness who attacks healthcare workers. We recognise the need to be sensitive in the case of those patients who have a mental illness and that they may not be responsible for their actions. Hospitals must ensure that comprehensive risk assessments are undertaken and higher levels, of appropriately skilled members of the multidisciplinary team are available. However a mental illness should not absolve responsibility in all cases.

Healthcare workers will always care for patients to the best of their ability but to protect them and maintain patient care it is essential that violence against nurses and other healthcare workers are taken seriously and perpetrators prosecuted if appropriate.

We believe that the privatisation of security services has had an impact on managing violent and aggressive situations. Non clinical areas have been hardest hit by trusts seeking to ensure they meet their allocated cost reduction programme. We believe that the continuity of security staff would enable a good working relationship to be maintained and allow for partnership working in reducing violence in the work place.

We therefore call for:

1.The Nursing Sector to raise this issue with the Department of Health and urge them to issue further advice to trusts on violence, especially in relation to mental health patients;

2.Highlight the need for monies to be made available to train healthcare workers in prevention methods should they be faced with a violent or aggressive patient;

3.The 4 Health Departments to issue guidance to trusts on contracting with trainers offering courses on dealing with violence.