Leeds Hospital staff facing violence, abuse and harrassment at work

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Dozens of NHS staff were injured as the number of physical assaults on staff at the city’s hospitals rose by 25 per cent last year.

Fears have been raised over the safety of workers at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust after 188 violent assaults in 2018, up from 159 the previous year.

PIC: PA

PIC: PA

The incidents caused physical injuries on 169 occasions, although none were said to be serious, said a report to the trust’s board meeting yesterday.

Simon Neville, the trust’s director of strategy and planning, said: “All our staff should be able to come to work without fear of violence, abuse or harassment.

“Sadly, a minority of patients and service-users are abusive or violent towards our staff. This is absolutely unacceptable and we are committed to dealing with this problem.

“We have a zero tolerance stance towards violence and there has been an increase in the numbers of offenders being prosecuted over the last few years.”

Latest NHS-wide figures show 15 per cent of staff have experienced violence from patients, relatives or the public.

At Leeds Teaching Hospitals there were 355 assaults during 2018, up from 266 in 2017, including physical, non-physical and mental health-related incidents.

Both physical and non-physical assaults rose by 25 per cent.

Mental health-related assaults more than doubled, from 40 in 2017 to 83 last year.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which campaigned for new laws to protect NHS staff, has raised concerns that cuts to community and mental health services could be exacerbating the violence problem.

RCN regional director Glenn Turp said: “It is distressing to see that these figures are increasing at such a rate.

“There is no doubt that improved staffing levels and properly funded services would help to mitigate the risk that patients become violent or aggressive.

“Increasingly we are seeing people who could have been treated or cared for elsewhere turning up at hospital and this adds pressure on services and staff there.”

The number of physical attacks on staff would he far higher if not for the work of security staff who “de-escalate” 60 per cent of potentially-violent incidents, the board report said.