Healthcare staff still face barrage of abuse at work

Healthcare workers across the country are being bombarded with violent
abuse, despite a fall in the number of attacks in other sectors and a concerted
government campaign.

The latest figures from the Home Office show that although the overall risk
of experiencing violence at work has fallen from 2.7 per cent in 1995 to 1.7
per cent in 2002/03, healthcare staff are nearly three times worse off at 5 per

The British Crime Survey also found that around 36 per cent of health and
welfare professionals said they were very or fairly worried about being

Hope Daley, national health and safety officer at healthcare union Unison,
accused employers of failing to protect frontline medical staff, despite
repeated warnings.

"Clearly not enough is being done to prevent this and employers are
just putting peace meal solutions in place. It’s not being taken seriously, and
managers aren’t applying government policies," she said.

In 2001, the Department of Health targeted a 30 per cent reduction in
attacks by 2003 and launched a campaign of zero tolerance.

However, the National Audit Office said so far the reduction had not
exceeded 20 per cent, and that 55 per cent of health authorities had actually
reported an increase in the number of violent attacks.

Elaine Way, president of the Association of Healthcare Human Resource
Managers, said the overall reduction in violence was pleasing, but more needed
to be done to lower the number of attacks.

Is workplace violence a problem in your sector? If it is, what are you
doing to combat it? Contact Ross Wigham

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