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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Violence plagues ambulance staff
Ambulance workers deal with high pressure situations
Ambulance workers suffer more violence and bullying than other NHS staff, research finds.

They are also more likely to be disatisfied with their work-life balance, and level of managerial support than other NHS workers.

The independent watchdog the Healthcare Commission based its findings on a survey of over 200,000 NHS employees.

It is calling for urgent action to address the problem of violence and intimidation of NHS staff.

The analysis showed:

  • Nearly a third of all staff in ambulance trusts, and over half of paramedics and ambulance technicians, said they had experienced violence from patients or their relatives.

  • Experience of violence, harassment and bullying are also high for mental health staff, unregistered nurses and healthcare assistants.

  • Shift workers, who constitute nearly a third of NHS staff, are seven times more likely to experience violence, and also see more errors and incidents that could harm patients or staff.

  • Nurses report high levels of support from supervisors and good access to training, but also experience high work-related stress.

  • Maintenance and ancillary staff are less likely to have had an appraisal, training, or to work in a team and are more likely to have a poorer work-life balance.

    They are more likely to be planning to leave their jobs than most other groups of staff.

  • General managers reported a positive experience of work overall, but report working more hours due to pressures of the job than other staff groups.

Anna Walker, HC chief executive, said: "People who care for everyone's health needs should not have to endure violence or harassment as part of their daily working life.

"We urge NHS organisations to investigate and address these issues and examine the scope to improve work life balance and reduce work pressure for staff."

NHS response

We take the problem of violence and aggression seriously and are determined to deliver an environment for those who use or work in the NHS which is properly secure.
Jim Gee
The NHS Security Management Service recently took over responsibility for all security management issues in the NHS.

It launched a new strategy to tackle violence against NHS staff in December 2003, including a pledge to take swift legal action against anyone who assaults NHS staff and conflict resolution training for all front-line workers.

Jim Gee, the chief executive, said recent figures compiled by his organisation showed that NHS staff were now reporting far more incidents of violence than in the past - a strong indication that people were no longer prepared to tolerate violence and aggression.

He said: "We take the problem of violence and aggression seriously and are determined to deliver an environment for those who use or work in the NHS which is properly secure so that the highest possible standard of clinical care can be made available."

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