Health Secretary’s mission to improve safety of NHS staff at work

At the end of 2018, Matt Hancock unveiled plans to reduce the level of violence faced by NHS workers throughout the country in a new ‘zero tolerance’ policy.     Latest figures show that more than 15% of NHS workers have faced violence at work from patients, relatives, or the public in the last 12 months.  This is the highest figure in 5 years.

Sharon Morris has worked as an NHS Nurse for the past 30 years.  In an interview with BBC News she explained that in 2016, she was violently attacked in the medium security mental health unit where she worked.  She took 3 months off after the attack but it was a further 3 months before she felt safe enough to work with patients again.  Two years on from the incident, she still suffers from flashbacks and nightmares.  Another nurse explained that she was ‘taken hostage’ by an alcoholic patient on an acute ward, and had a piece of broken plastic held against her throat.  She has also experienced other serious assaults, including being head-butted.

Royal College of Nursing National Officer, Kim Sunley stated: “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”.  The new initiative will mean that complaints and recordings do not go unnoticed and staff will have a voice against violence.

The new zero tolerance policy will impact NHS staff in the following ways:

·           Offenders will face tougher jail sentences, quicker prosecutions and there will be a closer relationship between the NHS and the Crown Prosecution Service.

·           Staff will receive better training on how to deal with violent situations.

·           Staff will have a new, easier and more accessible system of recording incidents.

·           Watchdogs will inspect how the Trusts follow up and deal with incidents recorded by staff.

·           Staff will have access to physiotherapy and mental health support after any violent incidents.

As well as criminal prosecutions, health and social care workers should be aware that they may be able to seek damages for personal injuries suffered from violence at work.  Here at MTB our experienced personal injury team have represented health and social care workers against the various Trusts to receive compensation.

If you are a health or social care worker and have been the victim of violence in your work place, MTB Solicitors are here to help.  You can contact us on 0289032980 for legal advice and assistance.