NHS in crisis

Recruitment
problems and growing violence against staff put HR under pressure

HR
in front line in war on NHS staff violence

Health
and social services HR managers are facing a rising tide of violence against
their staff according to worrying new research released this week.

A
survey of 45 NHS trusts has revealed that the number of violent and aggressive
incidents directed at health service employees increased by more than a fifth
in the year to April 2000.

Last
week a new national action plan was announced to reduce violence and abuse
against social care workers by at least 25 per cent by March 2005.

Statistics
show that a third of social care staff have been physically attacked and
three-quarters verbally abused in their current jobs. 

The
survey of health service staff by Health Service Report, which was published
yesterday by employment analyst IRS, shows there was an average of 511 violent
incidents per trust.

"This
is a shocking finding. There is no doubt that many front-line NHS staff
continue to face a serious risk of being physically assaulted and or verbally
abused while serving the public," said Adam Geldman, author of the report.

Gary
Theobald, head of personnel for the Basildon and Thurrock General Hospitals’
NHS Trust, commented, "I think part of the problem is that people have
less respect for health service staff. There are a number of people who think
nothing at all of coming in and screaming at our staff and there are more
people around prepared to throw a punch."

Keith
Johnston, HR director for North Bristol NHS Trust, thinks part of the rise can
be attributed to better reporting of incidents.

By
ben willmott 

How
one trust cuts assaults

The
North Bristol NHS Trust has developed a number of measures to deal with
violence and aggression against its staff.

A
risk assessment has been carried out throughout the trust and lighting is being
reviewed in pedestrian areas to ensure staff are safe.

CCTV
has been installed in all car parks and some public areas and all the trust’s
staff are offered the use of attack alarms. The trust also employs security
guards who are on duty at all times and it is developing a policy on lone
working.

Only
a fifth of trusts surveyed by Health Service Report say they will meet the
first "zero tolerance" target of reducing incidents of workplace
violence by 20 per cent by the April 2001 deadline.

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