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Violent patients' toll on hospital workers work extremely hard to provide.

Byline: DAVE HIMELFIELD

VIOLENT and abusive patients have been costing hospital staff and police hundreds of man hours each year.

According to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, police were called to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Calderdale Royal Hospital and Dewsbury District Hospital 96 times last year.

And Dewsbury District Hospital (DDH) last year recorded 48 physical assaults on its staff by patients - the equivalent of one attack each week.

Meanwhile A&E staff at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) took a total of 294 sick days due to stress in 2009 - although the figure decreased to 32 sick days last year.

The majority of police call-outs were to incidents in the three hospitals' accident and emergency (A&E) departments, the figures have revealed. Of 59 call-outs to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) last year, 51 were to the hospital's A&E department.

HRI also experienced an increased number of call-outs last year, compared with 54 in 2009 and 43 in 2008.

Violent patients - many under the influence of drink or drugs - were often to blame for the incidents as well as confused elderly patients and aggressive partners or friends of a patient.

Police were also called to DDH following reports of patients absconding, break-ins, thefts, vandalism, fighting and suspicious parcels.

HRI opened a police room at the hospital's A&E department this month.

It is hoped the room will provide reassurance to patients and staff who can report incidents to officers posted there.

A spokesman for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, which manages HRI and Calderdale Royal Hospital (CRH), said: "The number of staff sickness days was higher in 2009 because long-term sickness absence is included in the figure.

"We encourage staff to report all incidents as part of our robust zero tolerance policy on violence. All incidents are investigated and the police are involved where necessary.

"All clinical staff at the trust receive conflict resolution training, which aims to diffuse potential situations."

Myles McQuade, director of the hospitals at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust which manages DDH, said: "Our staff work extremely hard to provide the highest levels of care possible for our patients. It is completely unacceptable that they should face violence and aggression in the course of their job.

"We will not tolerate any risk to the health, safety and welfare of our employees or our patients and visitors due to violent and aggressive behaviour.

"We continue to work hard, and in partnership with the police and the wider NHS, to improve our service to ensure that this behaviour is not tolerated."

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: "The police do not tolerate assaults on patients, the public or staff working within the region's hospitals.

"Doctors, nurses and health care staff do a tremendous job and do not deserve to be subject to any form of abuse.

"Our Neighbourhood Policing Team officers have strong links with HRI and DDH and regularly patrol and visit the hospitals.

"We have, for example, recently established a small police room within the A&E department of the HRI, so that officers can forge stronger links with staff and patients, reduce the number of offences being committed and improve confidence in the police."

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* INCIDENTS: Huddersfield Royal Infirmary had 59 police call-outs
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Sep 17, 2011
Words:542
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