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One in six lone nurses attacked during home visits

Over 60% of lone nurses working in the community have been attacked while on duty, a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey reveals.

Nearly 11% of RCN members also reported they had suffered physical abuse at the hands of patients during home visits.

Worryingly, the 800 RCN members surveyed were not overly optimistic that employers would offer protection in abuse cases.

Almost half of respondents do not believe their employer would take action over verbal abuse and over a quarter of nurses feel employers would fail to take action over physical assaults inflicted by patients.

“Nurses working alone in the community are vulnerable and are often without back up or immediate help close by - out of sight should not mean out of mind,” said Dr Peter Carter, the RCN's Chief Executive and General Secretary.

“During these dark, winter nights I expect that many nurses may feel even more at risk and this must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Dr Carter warned further pressures such as staffing cuts could see the number of violent attacks on nurses rise.

The survey also shows almost four in ten nurses feel the risks to lone workers have increased over the past two years.

Reasons given for the perceived rise in risks include: higher expectations imposed of nurses by both patients and relatives/carers, increasing caseloads, and greater levels of substance abuse among patients.

Royal College of Nursing