Violence & Assault Agaisnt NHS Staff

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2008 Health Care Service Group Conference
14 April 2008

Conference notes the statistics published by the NHS Security Management Service for 2006-7 showing a fall in violence against NHS staff in England. However Conference is concerned that in both the Ambulance and Mental Healthcare sectors the reduction was significantly less than elsewhere and front line workers in these areas continue to face unacceptable levels of violence.

Conference recognises that physical and verbal abuse, bullying and harassment are experienced by most frontline NHS staff.

Conference notes the measures taken by the NHS Security Management Services (SMS) in England, working in partnership with UNISON, and other bodies, to increase security amongst NHS Staff.

These include:

(a)The recording of all acts of physical assault in England;

(b)The insertion of a clause into the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill (England & Northern Ireland) which will create the offence of refusing to leave NHS premises having caused a nuisance or disturbance;

c)Memorandums of Understanding between SMS in England and both the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and Crown Prosecution Service that assaults against NHS Staff are met with a robust charging policy;

However this conference also notes that although the number of prosecutions brought for offences against NHS staff has increased (from 51 in 2002/3 to 850 for 2005/6), this figure is still far too low. All this means that many frontline staff continue to remain in fear of violent assault & abuse. Also although acts of physical assault are recorded nationally in England, offences involving verbal assault are only recorded locally if at all. There is no system for recording offences, physical or verbal, UK wide.

Conference therefore calls on the Health Service Group Executive to work in partnership with appropriate stakeholders to:

1.Establish and maintain a consistent system of recording data relating to assault against healthcare workers across all four countries of the United Kingdom including information on all reported incidences and prosecutions;

2.Maintain rigorous application and enforcement of specific and related legislation, including ensuring a robust charging policy against perpetrators of assaults on ambulance and other NHS staff is in place in all four countries of the United Kingdom;

3.NHS to work with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure new and existing legislation is fully enforced;

4.Ensure all frontline staff throughout the four countries of the United Kingdom receive Conflict Resolution Training;

5.Ensure employers ring fence the necessary resources so that our members’ health and safety is not compromised by financial constraints;

6.Ensure that reinforcements necessary to protect ambulance and other frontline healthcare staff is available whenever needed, including from the police and other security agencies;

7.Initiate and support national and local campaigns to increase awareness of this issue.