Zero tolerance approach to violence towards doctors and nurses

People who abuse or threaten nurses and doctors in England will face fines of up to £1,000, under new proposals.

About 40% of nurses have suffered harassment, bullying or threats from patients and their relatives, a survey out tomorrow will reveal.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt will give details of the “zero tolerance” approach to the problem at a GMB union conference in Nottingham on Tuesday.

This year’s Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) staff survey reveals incidents of harassment and assaults have increased since 2000, the last time the survey was conducted.

Since the establishment of the NHS Security Management Service in 2003 there has been a 15-fold increase in the number of people prosecuted for attacking NHS staff.

During 2004-05 there were 759 prosecutions, compared with 51 cases in 2002-03.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We want to send a clear message to the public that this will not be tolerated and anyone who threatens or verbally abuses our staff will be removed from the premises and could face a fine of up to £1,000.”

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the new proposals.

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