Clampdown on violence against NHS staff

New measures to protect NHS staff are to be introduced to try to reduce the thousands of assaults on them that take place every year. Staffs are to be given better training in dealing with violent situations and offenders will be prosecuted more quickly. Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out further details later. He says the NHS will adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to violence against its staff.
A bill to double the sentence for assaults on emergency workers from six months to a year is shortly expected to become law too. The NHS Violence Reduction Strategy expands on work previously carried out by a body that was scrapped by government more than a year ago. Sharon Morris, a nurse for more than 30 years, was attacked in the medium security mental health unit where she worked. The effect on her life has been profound. It was in 2016 that the abuse happened and she still experiences flashbacks and nightmares. “It was a patient I had been working with for a year and it all happened out of the blue. He went to attack a colleague and I stepped in. “I remember him hitting and punching me in the head and then I passed out.” Sharon was off sick for three months and it took another three months after that for her to feel safe enough to work with patients again. “The worst bit is the psychological side. It’s made me feel very wary of people. For a while I would see my assailant’s face in other young men – even my eldest son, who is physically quite similar. “There are still things that make me anxious now. I can’t read or watch things like crime programmes that contain a lot of violence.” Nurse Shelley Pearce was “taken hostage” by an alcoholic patient on an acute ward, who held a piece of broken plastic against her throat.

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