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Attacks on hospital staff increase, but no one is charged
ATTACKS on hospital staff are on the up...yet no-one is being prosecuted.
Latest figures show more doctors, nurses and receptionists were assaulted between the end of April last year and March this year than in the previous 12 months.
A total of 91 assaults took place at Basildon Hospital – up from 78.
At Southend Hospital, there were 99 – compared to 91 previously.
Figures show 26 of these involved medical factors, meaning the attacker was not aware of their actions, due to a disability or mental illness.
Yet not one of the 190 assaults has yet resulted in prosecution, despite bosses insisting police are always called.
Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, said while the figures did not surprise him, action needed to be taken.
He added: “There is no excuse for assaulting health staff and I encourage hospitals to use the full weight of the law to prosecute those responsible. It sends out the message that this behaviour is totally unacceptable.’’ A red and yellow card scheme is used across the NHS to crack down on abusive and violent patients. Kevin Chinnery, service operations manager at Southend Hospital, said: “Criminal sanctions are a matter for the police.
However, the hospital does operate an internal sanction process, where each offence is categorised.
“Offenders receive an official warning or a ban from the trust.
Twowarnings equate to a ban that lasts a year. However, those with medical emergencies will still be treated, regardless of any sanctions.
Police are occasionally called prior to sanction, if the incident merits.”
A Basildon Hospital spokesman added: “We have a zero-tolerance policy concerning violence towards staff. The trust works hard to ensure staff feel safe in the workplace and has a number of measures to support this, including panic buttons. Where individuals are violent towards staff, police are contacted immediately.’’ The Crown Prosecution Service insists it is determined to deal with the threat of violence against hospital staff, and the cases may still be going through the legal system.
A spokesperson said: “The CPS considers violence and threatening behaviour towards health workers to be unacceptable.
“We want to send a clear message: If there is sufficient evidence that you have assaulted or threatened a health worker, the CPS will prosecute.”
The figures were published by NHS Protect, an organisation which tackles crime across the health service.
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