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Agreement signed to curb violent behaviour in NHS

NHS Protect has signed an agreement with prosecutors and police to clamp down on violent behaviour towards NHS staff.

In 2009/10 there were 56,718 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have joined forces with NHS security bosses to develop a 'Joint Working Agreement'.

It aims to promote solutions at a local level to target local issues with a view to bring down the level of anti-social behaviour in the NHS.

The three parties agree there is "strong public interest" in prosecuting those who assault NHS staff or commit offences that disrupt NHS services.

Individual police services, CPS areas and NHS bodies will be encouraged to seek the "strongest possible action" against offenders.

Chief Constable Brian Moore, ACPO Lead for Violence and Public Protection, admitted there are "weaknesses" in the current system, but he claimed the three-way partnership will allow the parties to work "more effectively".

"NHS staff do a very difficult job in challenging circumstances," said Pam Bowen, Senior Policy Advisor at CPS.

"If they are subjected to abuse or violence during the course of their work they deserve to know that offenders will be prosecuted wherever possible. 

"This agreement should reassure healthcare workers across England that such abuse will not be tolerated and that their own welfare is just as important as that of the patients they treat." 

The Joint Working Agreement can be viewed here

We asked you if you feel protected from violent and threatening behaviour at work. Your comments (terms and conditions apply)

"Every couple of years a campaign is launched - such as "Zero Tolerance" etc - against abuse of NHS staff;  posters are erected in prominent places, statements are issued in local papers, etc etc, but the levels of abuse continue to rise. ALL NHS staff (including ancillary and supportive staff) bear the brunt of the latest governments' policies, cuts or grand ideas; whether it is GP receptionists who struggle to find appointments/have to tell attendees at A&E of a long wait, porters pharmacy assistants and cleaners;  paramedics who are struggling to achieve target times, or nurses and doctors who face an increasingly hostile public who are fed a constant stream of promises by any Government which cannot feasibly be kept due to staff cuts  or "re-structuring."  The public of all ages are increasingly becoming more verbally abusive and demanding, believing that the louder they shout the quicker care they will be given; vexatious and vicious letters of complaint are sent with very little substance apart from the fact they had to wait/didn't get what they wanted/the nurse didnt resemble Pollyanna. Forgive me if I sound cynical, but I have worked through more than one campaign and have seen little change in behaviour of patients (and more critically their relatives) who are now more agressive than ever" - B Lucas, Swindon