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Hunt ‘deeply shocked’ by staff abuse findings

2 April 2013

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Statistics which show nearly half of NHS workers have been abused by a patient were called “deeply shocking” by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

In an interview with Management in Practice editor-in-chief Victoria Vaughan, Hunt said he will “look into whether there is anything [the Department of Health] can do”. 

The results of Primary Concerns: A Survey of Healthcare Professionals by Campden Health Research, which was released late last week, also showed 15% of primary and community care clinicians had been physically abused. 

Hunt said: “There is absolutely no excuse for that. 

“In the healthcare environment everyone is stressed and pressured; lives are at stake, people are unwell, but there is no excuse for any kind of physical abuse.” 

According to the survey, 40% of those who had experienced abuse was at the hands of a colleague.

“I think, again, that is deeply depressing,” Hunt said, adding “We need to operate as a team.  We have a huge responsibility – those of us working for the NHS – because we are looking after three-million people every week and that creates enough pressures of its own, without creating additional pressure in terms of the way we treat our colleagues.” 

‘Friends and Family’ test

According to the survey, 55% of primary care professionals would not want their relatives to be treated at their local hospital. 

With the roll out of the Friends and Family test imminent, and the patient’s version already started in hospitals and A&E departments across England, Hunt said the figures “must be taken very seriously”. 

Hunt explained that the two versions of the test explore different measures of quality. 

He said: “It is partly about whether people want their friends and family to proceed with treatment they received, or receive the treatment at their hospital or surgery. 

“It is also about clinical outcomes; it is about survival rates; it is about how many people are back fighting-fit six months after having a stroke or a heart attack; it is about cleanliness.”

However, it would be a “big mistake” to judge just by these measures because it “might be at a very high cost” elsewhere in the health service, he said. 


Nearly half of the clinical staff polled said they would choose a different career if they could start again, citing  “too much bureaucracy” as a key issue. 

The Health Secretary hopes better use of technology could remedy that. 

“The great thing about the smart use of technology is it reduces the need to continually enter new names and new bits of information because you can store information, you can populate fields and, most importantly, you can give a better care.” 

Hunt added that the introduction of a “transferable digital record” would hugely reduce bureaucracy throughout the system.

Sixty per cent of the 1041 GPs, practice managers and nurses who took part in Primary Concerns are against the healthcare reforms. 

Almost two-thirds of those polled believe the changes will amount to a distraction from caring for patients.

The same amount believe that the reforms are a ‘waste of money’. 

A copy of the report can be found here

The full version of Management in Practice’s interview with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the next issue, out soon.