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Staff attack cases rise at Airedale Hospital
7:00am Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
Violent attacks against staff at Airedale Hospital have risen, it has been revealed.
Forty-nine incidents have taken place in the past year, with 27 resulting in injury.
The total has now exceeded 140 during a three-year period.
And the shocking statistics have been condemned by Keighley’s MP, Kris Hopkins.
Mr Hopkins said: “The primary purpose of a hospital is to care for people. The fact medical professionals, who are carrying out their duties to patients, can become victims of violent attacks is outrageous, and the perpetrators must face the full rigours of the law.”
Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has now set up a special staff support group to investigate reported incidents of physical or verbal abuse – by patients, carers or other members of the public.
Non-executive director, David Adam, said: “We’re not the police force on a Friday night, we’re a hospital and our staff should not be subjected to this. We must not become inured to it.”
The new staff support group’s remit will include looking at ‘hotspots’, such as accident and emergency, where abuse of staff is more common.
The body will also consider whether more training is needed for employees who care for patients with health conditions that may lead to abusive or violent behaviour.
The latest yearly figure compares with 46 incidents in 2010-11, which included 24 resulting in injury.
The issue was discussed at the latest meeting of Airedale’s board of directors.
Ann Wagner, director of strategy and business development, said: “As a board, we take this very seriously, and we’re putting in place the right level of support. We’re not desensitised to it, and we will take a zero-tolerance approach.”
Speaking after the meeting, Airedale director of nursing, Rob Dearden, said: “Any violence or abuse towards our staff is unacceptable.
“Staff need to be able to go about their jobs and provide excellent care without the fear of being abused, and in the knowledge they have the skills, training and support to deal with situations when they do occur.
“We work closely with our security partners to ensure support is provided to staff in areas across the hospital where patients or the public can become physically abusive.
“However, we recognise that at times, violence and aggression may be symptomatic of a patient’s condition, which needs to be managed in an appropriate, safe and professional manner.
“We provide conflict resolution training for all frontline staff, whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, so they can try to diffuse situations before they escalate, and line managers will support any affected staff.
“Anyone affected by an incident can use services, including counselling, provided by our employee health and wellbeing team.”
Mr Hopkins added: “Verbal abuse should also not be allowed to go unchallenged, and I fear public sector workers are sometimes seen as easy targets, which is absolutely wrong.
“I’m certainly very willing to liaise with the police or other authorities on behalf of any constituent who has been subject to any such abuse. This type of behaviour must not be tolerated.”