Assaults on hospital staff show increase for second successive year

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

ASSAULTS on hospital staff has risen for the second successive year but health chiefs have stressed the majority are caused as a result of patients’ illness or condition.

Figures for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust reveal assaults rose from 93 in 2011-12 to 98 in 2012-13, an increase of five per cent.

The Trust runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

Bosses have put the rise down to the number of patients being responsible for more than one assault and the raised awareness of staff to make sure all assaults are reported.

The figures were discussed at a recent board meeting.

Lynne Hodgson, director of finance, information and technology, said the number of reports of assaults that resulted in serious injury was “very low”.

Figures show a total of 98 physical assaults on staff by patients or visitors were reported during 2012-13 with 37 at Hartlepool, 58 at the Stockton site and three in the community.

Officials confirmed 19 patients were responsible for 49 of the assaults with 69 of the assaults resulting in no injury, 27 minor pain, bruising or scratching and two resulted in the staff member needing seven days or more off work.

Medicine and elderly care wards accounted for 75 per cent of all physical assaults.

A report said: “It should be noted that the majority of incidents, 88, are non-intentional and are caused by the patient’s illness or condition.”

Figures show 88 of the physical assaults were carried out by patients over the age of 60.

Seven out of the 10 intentional assaults were reported to the police but in three cases staff did not want to take any further action.

Of those that were reported, four resulted in either cautions or convictions and of the remaining three, one saw no further action, one injured person refused to provide a statement and one patient was given a verbal warning by police.

Paul Garvin, chairman of the board, said: “The bulk of the physical assaults happen on the medical and elderly care wards and the patients can often be confused from their illness or as the result of an infection.

“It shows that the staff are responding well I think.”