One in four NHS staff bullied, harassed or abused, survey finds
Poll of staff in England also finds 40% have felt unwell due to stress at workMore than a quarter of NHS workers have been bullied, harassed or abused in the past year by patients and members of the public, a poll suggests. The NHS staff survey for England, which included responses from 569,440 staff, found 29% had experienced at least one incident of bullying, harassment or abuse in the past 12 months. It found about one in seven (15%) have been physically attacked, up slightly on the year before. A further four in 10 have felt unwell due to work-related stress. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has now written to all NHS staff, telling them “being assaulted or abused is not part of the job”. The letter said: “There is far too much violence against NHS staff, and too much acceptance that it’s part of the job. Far too often I hear stories that the people you are trying to help lash out.” “I’ve seen it for myself in A&Es, on night shifts, and on ambulances. I am horrified that any member of the public would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often.” A tightening of the rules means hospitals can now refuse, in non-emergency cases, to treat patients or visitors who are aggressive or discriminatory, such as those who attack somebody’s ethnicity. Ambulance staff and those working for mental health or learning disability trusts were worst affected by abuse and violence. The poll found that 9% of all NHS staff have also been harassed, bullied or abused by colleagues, and 12% by managers. Other findings from the 2019 poll showed that 40.3% of staff reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress, up from 39.8% the year before and 36.8% in 2016. Some 22.9% also said they had unrealistic time pressures, up from 20% the year before. Additionally, 37% of NHS staff who have frequent face-to-face meetings with patients or service users have experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients, their relatives or other members of the public. Despite this, more staff in 2019 reported being happy with the quality of care they can provide. A higher number also said they would recommend their place of work for treatment. There has also been a drop in the proportion of staff working extra unpaid hours in the past five years, although 55.9% still do so every week. Hancock said the NHS had joined forces with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to approve a joint agreement on offences against emergency workers. He added: “This will ensure that those who act violently and with criminal intent towards NHS staff are swiftly brought to justice. “The joint agreement provides a framework to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of cases where staff are the victim of a crime and sets out the standards victims of these crimes can expect. “All assault and hate crimes against NHS staff must be investigated with care, compassion, diligence and commitment. “I ask that you please ensure that you report every incident and act of abuse or violence against you or a colleague. No act of violence or abuse is minor.” Sir Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive, said: “We are determined to clamp down on abuse and aggression in all its forms.” The Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAneasaid: “Matt Hancock’s tough talk is welcome, but it comes many months after he promised to tackle violence. These figures show there’s been no noticeable change.” A separate survey due to be published tomorrow by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman will say that one in five mental health patients do not feel safe in NHS care. The survey found that more than half of people with mental health problems in England also said they experienced delays to their treatment, while four in 10 (42%) said they waited too long to be diagnosed. Topics Read more: The Guardian
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