Physical assaults against NHS staff has increased since 2012, figures released by NHS Protect reveal.
More criminal sanctions following reported assault have been noted (15% increase). Overall, there was a rise of almost 6% in total reported assaults, from 59,744 in 2011/12 to 63,199 in 2012/13.
NHS Protect has urged staff to use available powers to respond decisively to low-level nuisance behaviour before it escalated into violence against staff.
Health organisations should also take advantage of the joint working agreement between the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service and use existing guidance to pursue local arrangements building on this national agreement - to ensure criminal assaults are identified and do not go unpunished.
Richard Hampton, Head of Local Support and Development Services at NHS Protect, said today: “NHS staff should expect to be able to provide care in a safe environment, free from violence and physical assault. NHS Protect urges employers to take firm action in all cases of assault against NHS staff.
"We urge all NHS staff to report assault and acts of violence against them. Employers must do all they can to support staff in preventing incidents and pursuing offenders”.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said: “We are concerned that frontline staff may be at greater risk because of additional pressures on services, leading to a growing level of frustration from some patients. There is no excuse to take out these frustrations on hard working frontline staff, who have no control over the pressure that services are under and are doing everything they can to help patients despite these challenges.
“If employers fail to provide a safe working environment for their staff it simply increases these pressures and this is bad for staff, bad for patient care and bad for the NHS.”