Unite union calls for more nurses following attacks on mental health workers

A leading union has called for an increase in nursing staff on mental health wards to reduce the number of physical attacks on nurses by patients.

A Health Commission study of 69 NHS trusts and private hospitals in England and Wales found that more than half of nurses on mental health wards had been physically assaulted.

The number increased to two-thirds of nurses in wards for older people, with injuries including fractures, dislocations and black eyes.

The survey found that four in 10 nurses did not feel the ratio of staff on the wards was appropriate to the needs of their patients.

Kevin Coyne, head of health at the Unite union, said: “This evidence makes it clear that more needs to be done to tackle this frightening level of intimidation. The employment of more front-line staff could help to reduce this tidal wave of violence.”

He said that employees needed to feel they could do their jobs with dignity and without fear.

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