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Assaults on hospital staff are rising to record levels; According to data released under freedom of information laws, the number of attacks has increased by 46% in the past nine years.

Byline: Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe

Hospital staff inMerseysidesuffer an average of two assaults a day, according to exclusive figures obtained by the Liverpool ECHO.

The new data reveals that 887 physical assaults against staff were reported at Merseysidehospitaltrusts in 2017/18, compared to 789 in 2016/17.

The figures, released under freedom of information laws, indicate that of the 887 reported assaults last year, 255 occurred at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals, 215 at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, and 120 at Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

Last year, a 25 year old nurse fromWirral was attacked by a patient with boiling water on national television.

The psychiatric nurse, namedChristie, was featured as part of the Channel 4 documentary '24 hours in A&E', and was shown being treated for severe burns to her face, neck and chest.

She was later rushed into St George's Hospital in South West London, where she was given painkillers and morphine to try to control the pain.

Describing the moment she was attacked, Christie, who worked at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Kent said: "We had to give her (the patient) antipsychotic depot medication and we had to restrain and give it and then she had obviously come back and attacked afterwards."

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Christie's experience was similar to other health professionals - with responses from the hospital trusts suggesting that around two-thirds of the assaults were carried out by individuals who did not know what they were doing - or did not know what they were doing was wrong as they were being treated for illnesses such as severe learning disabilities or mental illnesses.

Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair has also argued that it is important to place the attacks within a wider context.

He said: "While we hope recent increases in jail sentences for people who attackemergencyworkers may help reduce incidents, we must also look at the wider environment and how it may contribute to reasons behind why assaults take place.

"Alcohol is often a contributing factor, particularly in emergency departments, and more must be done, outside of medical settings, to reduce alcohol abuse.

"Similarly, assaults can often occur when treating frail, olderdementiapatients or those with severe mental health problems.

"Situations in which these patients are inappropriately admitted to hospitals because of social care bed shortages or gaps in mental health provision are likely to only exacerbate the risk of attacks."

Liverpool figures reflect nationwide trends, with the latest numbers suggesting that attacks are now at a record high.

Across England,hospitalstaff were assaulted 23,009 times in 2017/18.

Figures suggest hospital staff in England were 49% more likely to be assaulted in 2017/18 than seven years ago, with 26 assaults per 1,000 staff compared to 17 per 1,000 in 2010/11.

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In response to the latest statistics, Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "It's extremely worrying to find out that the number of attacks on hospital staff is relentlessly rising again, after a small reduction two years ago.

"The fact that assaults on staff have increased by 70% since 2010 shows that Ministers, the NHS and individual employers have still not got a grip on this problem.

"Workplace violence for anyone working on the frontline is unacceptable - as a nurse myself, I've seen and experienced situations that have made me feel unsafe or under threat."

Dr Harwood agreed, saying: "The BMA has long been concerned about the risk and impact of violence on NHS staff, and these figures show a worrying rise in attacks taking place against people doing their utmost to provide high-quality care to patients in an under-pressure health service.

"Violence against staff is not only physically and mentally harmful for the individuals targeted, but it can be costly for an already stretchedNHS, as hospitals and other providers are forced to pay for security services, investigations and cover for sick leave, and therefore there must be decisive action to tackle this problem and provide quality support to those who find themselves the victims of physical abuse."

NHS England did not respond to a request for comment.

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Credit: Liverpool ECHO

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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 20, 2019
Words:732
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