Man arrested after worker’s ear ‘bitten off’ in attack at Leeds NHS site

The Becklin Centre
The Becklin Centre
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Concerns have been raised for the safety of staff at a mental health unit after a worker allegedly had his ear bitten off by a patient.

A 43-year-old man was taken to hospital for emergency treatment following a horrific incident at the Becklin Centre in Leeds.

It is claimed the victim had most of his ear ripped off in an attack outside the unit, which is on the same site as St James’s Hospital.

There were initial reports that he had also lost an eye, but it is understood doctors managed to save his sight.

Police are now investigating and have made an arrest, while bosses at the health trust which runs the centre have confirmed they are carrying out their own enquiries into a “terrible incident”.

But a source close to the unit has raised concerns about the safety of staff and the public.

The source said: “My concern in relation to this matter is not the mental health condition of the [alleged] individual concerned, but rather how such a lapse of security occurred and, further, what steps are being taken to ensure it does not happen again.”

The Becklin Centre has 90 beds and provides treatment for people detained under the Mental Health Act, as well as diagnostic and screening procedures.

It also offers a mental health, learning disability and substance misuse service.

Police were called to the centre at around midday on November 8 to reports of an assault. It is alleged the staff member was attacked shortly after getting out of his car.

He was taken to Leeds General Infirmary, where it is understood surgery was successfully carried out to repair his ear.

Officers detained a 24-year-old man at the scene and later arrested him on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

He remains on bail pending further enquiries.

The Yorkshire Evening Post’s source said the alleged attacker had got out of the unit after a door was left unlocked.

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Trust said it could not go into detail about the incident as investigations were ongoing.

But chief executive Chris Butler said: “Violence against NHS staff is always totally unacceptable.

“The safety and security of our staff, service users and their families is always a top priority for us and we are supporting all of those who were involved in this terrible incident.”

According to figures released last month, there were 1,275 assaults on staff at all of the sites run by the NHS trust in 2013-14, of which only 43 did not involved medical factors.

The total number of attacks was down from just over 1,500 the previous year.