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Nearly 70,000 physical assaults on NHS staff this year

19 November 2015

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There have been 67,864 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England in 2014-15, according to new figures released by NHS Protect.

Of these, 45,220 assaults were in the mental health sector, 19,167 were in acute care, 1,861 were in the ambulance sector and 1,616 were in primary care. This is out of a total number of 1,304,263 NHS staff in England.

Overall, this is a small reduction in the number of reported physical assaults in 2013-14 (68,683), however the protection service said it is reasonable to assume some under-reporting of physical assaults. The 2014 NHS staff survey showed a possible 34% non-reporting of incidents of violence (albeit a lower percentage than the previous year).

In light of this, NHS Protect announced they are partnering with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Crown Prosecution Service in order to “work together to respond to incidents of crime, investigate and take appropriate cases forward for prosecution in this sector.”

The protection service is encouraging organisations to ensure staff are trained to meet NHS Protect’s conflict resolution training standards to calmly defuse and de-escalate situations, and use available powers to respond decisively to low level aggression before it escalates into violence against staff.

In response, Janet Davies, executive director of nursing and service delivery at the Royal College of Nursing said: “There may well be instances where assaults or aggressive behaviour are related to a medical condition, but there is more employers can do to prevent incidents and reduce harm. With security staff, training, support for lone workers, safe staffing levels and a well-designed environment for care, employers can help to mitigate the risks to staff.”