NHS workers are to receive better training in order to deal with violent assault in the workplace, while perpetrators will face harsher punishments
According to the BBC, health secretary Matt Hancock is set to outline measures for protecting NHS workers from violence.
Thousands of assaults against NHS workers occur every year. As such, staff are to be given targeted training for dealing with aggressive or violent situations, as part of the NHS Violence Reduction Strategy.
The strategy is being built on a pre-existing framework – NHS Protect – that was scrapped by the government over a year ago.
Offenders are also to be prosecuted more quickly, with a bill to double the sentence for assaults on emergency workers expected to become law soon.
Hancock has said that, from now on, the NHS will adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to violence against its staff.
Sharon Morris, a nurse for more than 30 years, was attacked in the mental health unit where she worked in 2016. She still has flashbacks and nightmares.
“It was a patient I had been working with for a year and it all happened out of the blue. He went to attack a colleague and I stepped in,” she said.
“I remember him hitting and punching me in the head and then I passed out.
“The worst bit is the psychological side. It’s made me feel very wary of people. For a while I would see my assailant’s face in other young men – even my eldest son, who is physically quite similar.”
Speaking to the Royal College of Nursing, Hancock will outline how the new strategy will work:
Hancock said: “We will not shy away from the issue – we want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system.”
Royal College of Nursing National Officer, Kim Sunley, added: “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.
“These measures are another way to change this for good by increasing the accountability of employers for the safety of their staff, and ensuring those who wilfully assault healthcare workers feel the full force of the law.”