An assault on NHS staff is an assault on us all

Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond

'For those in the most unpredictable, frontline settings - paramedics, accident and emergency staff and mental health professionals - dealing with violent or abusive patients happens all too often.

This additional funding will come from the previously announced long-term financial settlement for the NHS, meaning that for the first time we know what to expect for mental health services beyond the end of the current five-year plan which ends in April 2021.

Latest figures show that more than 15 per cent of NHS staff have experienced violence from patients, relatives or the public in the last 12 months - the highest figure for five years.

'I have made it my personal mission to ensure NHS staff feel safe and secure at work and the new violence reduction strategy will be a key strand of that'.

He said it was "unacceptable" health workers had been subjected to violence and aggression as he set out the first NHS Violence Reduction Strategy.

Where staff have been attacked, health trusts will be encouraged to work with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure offenders are prosecuted quickly.

"There are many pressing demands on additional NHS funding but few more pressing than the needs of those who suffer from mental illness", Hammond told the Commons.

A new system will be introduced so staff can record assaults or other incidents of abuse or harassment.

In some cases prosecutions may not be appropriate, such as when assaults are carried out by patients with dementia, brain injuries or mental health problems.

"The extra funding for social care will offer more support to local authorities and the NHS".

"It is a sad fact that nearly none of the perpetrators receive custodial sentences when they are prosecuted for assaulting our staff", the association's managing director Martin Flaherty said.

"These new services will ensure people suffering from a crisis, young or old, will get the help they need, ending the stigma which has forced too many to suffering in silence".

Kim Sunley, national officer for the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Nurses and health care workers understand their roles aren't risk-free but, to many, it still seems as if the threat of physical violence is a daily reality".

Sara Gorton, head of health at the union Unison, said: "No-one should be abused, threatened or attacked at work - especially when all they're trying to do is help people".

Global Positioning System will be protected by a new "zero tolerance" policy aiming to reduce the number of assaults on NHS staff.

Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, welcomed the initiative, saying: "Patients - and their families - coming into the Emergency Departments are often experiencing the worst day of their lives; anxious, confused and often frustrated". What is unacceptable though is when this spills over into violence.

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