Violent patients face crackdown

PUBLISHED: 08:01 10 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

Health bosses have announced a major crack-down on violent patients as it emerged hundreds of hospital staff across the region had been assaulted last year.

Health bosses are announcing a major crackdown on violent patients today after it emerged hundreds of hospital staff across the region had been assaulted last year.

Government figures show NHS employees in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire now stand a one in 22 chance of being abused at work.

But ministers are today unveiling a package of measures to curb violent behaviour, including a fine of up to £1,000 for patients who assault staff.

In Norfolk, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital recorded the highest number of assaults against staff, followed by the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston.

But a spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, yesterday claimed its assault figures were far higher than recorded.

He said the vast majority of cases involved older patients who were suffering from dementia and unaware of their actions.

Just nine assaults involved patients either attacking staff or each other.

“We are currently talking to local police about the Building Safer Communities programme and we will be discussing with them how best to deal with the issue of personal security of our staff,” he said.

“We have appropriate measures in place at the hospital to deal with violent situations.

“Each case of violence is reviewed and discussed at our health and safety meetings to see what lesson might be learned.

“We feel the published figures give an inaccurate picture of the position of the QEH,” he said.

The N&N, which recorded 72 assaults against staff, said its zero-tolerance approach to violent behaviour was having a “positive impact”.

In total, nearly 400 cases were recorded by NHS staff across the three counties.

Health minister Caroline Flint said: “It is completely unacceptable that NHS staff have to suffer abuse at the hands of those they are trying to help.

“NHS staff deserve respect, not abuse. That is why we are sending a clear message to the small minority who are abusive, drunken or behave anti-socially.

“Under our proposals, patients and relatives who verbally abuse or threaten staff could face a fine of up to £1,000.

“We will also give the NHS the power to physically remove offenders from the premises.”

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