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The BBC's Jon Brain
"Hospital staff are routinely given instruction on control and retrain and how to break free when confronted"
 real 56k

Monday, 29 January, 2001, 00:14 GMT
Attacks on health workers rise
Nurse
Attacks on staff are a "serious issue"
A "shocking" report has revealed that violent incidents against NHS staff increased by a more than a fifth last year.

NHS Trusts in the UK suffered an average of 511 violent incidents in 2000, compared with 419 in 1999, the journal Health Service Report found.

Weapons used against health service staff such as doctors, nurses and GPs include Stanley knives, bottles and syringes.


There is no doubt that many front-line NHS staff continue to face a serious risk of being physically assaulted

Report author Adam Geldman
The number of attacks has risen despite the Department of Health's zero tolerance campaign, launched last year.

The author of the report, Adam Geldman, said: "This is a shocking finding.

"There is no doubt that many front-line NHS staff continue to face a serious risk of being physically assaulted or verbally abused while serving the public."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the findings were not a surprise.

"Violence against NHS staff is taken as a very serious issue and we are determined to lower the levels," she said.

Serious issues

"Many NHS employers have gone a long way down the road to meeting these targets but we know that more still needs to be done."

A reason for the increase in attacks might be that hospitals and trusts are encouraging staff to report complaints more.

One hospital trust said complaints about violence had quadrupled since it revised its reporting procedures.

A total of 77% hospital trusts now have closed-circuit television on their premises.

Courts

Three-quarters have security guards and 93% provide staff with information on how to deal with violent attacks.

Under the government's initiative, trusts are obliged to record the number of attacks on staff, improve reporting methods to help police catch offenders and reduce violence by 20% by April.

The initiative has been backed by the Lord Chancellor, who has asked magistrates to take a firm line with people who attack health workers.

Accident and emergency departments are also being redesigned to make them safer for staff.

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See also:

29 Jan 01 | Health
'I was beaten and stamped on'
04 Feb 00 | Background Briefings
Violence against NHS staff
14 Oct 99 | Health
Zero tolerance for NHS violence
03 Oct 00 | Health
Mobiles to avert NHS violence
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