Nearly a quarter of NHS staff have reported an injury or illness in the past
year from moving or handling patients, needlestick or sharps injuries, trips or
falls, or from being exposed to dangerous substances, a survey by the Government’s
NHS watchdog has found.
The study of 200,000 NHS staff, by the Commission for Health Improvement
(CHI), discovered that 22 per cent had reported injuries or illness in the
previous year, and 39 per cent said they had suffered from work-related stress.
Just as worrying, 15 per cent said they had experienced physical violence at
work, usually from patients or their relatives, and 37 per cent had suffered
harassment, bullying or abuse.
Of those, 28 per cent said the abuse had come from patients or their
relatives, 7 per cent from managers or supervisors, and 11 per cent from
Yet, despite this, NHS staff are by and large happy, with 73 per cent
generally satisfied. Workers showed their commitment to the service, with 75
per cent regularly working more than their contracted hours.
Health and safety training was lacking in areas, although 60 per cent of
respondents had received training in the previous 12 months.
Acting CHI chief executive, Jocelyn Cornwell, said despite the high satisfaction
levels, it was "concerning" that almost one in six staff had
experienced physical violence at work.
"Although this unfortunate statistic is comparable to other north
European healthcare providers, more needs to be done to ensure staff can go
about their work without the fear of being attacked," she added.
NHS chief executive, Sir Nigel Crisp, said: "It is vitally important
that our workforce is properly trained, protected and supported so it can give
the best possible care to patients."
Karen Jennings, head of health at union Unison, said it was clear the
service needed to do more to tackle violence, accidents, injuries and workplace
Beverly Malone, general secretary of the RCN, expressed concern at the
numbers without health and safety training.