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NHS staff physically assaulted 67,864 times this year

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.

In response to the assault figures and partnership, Janet Davies, executive director of nursing and service delivery at the Royal College of Nursing, said:

“Aside from the pain and distress, assaults against staff cost the NHS around £60 million which could be better spent on improving patient care and providing faster treatment. It is right that sanctions have been applied to more of the perpetrators than before, but it is still only a tiny proportion of the total.”

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.

Davies added: “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.”