Zero tolerance approach to assaults on hospital staff

Coun Edna Wright pictured outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Coun Edna Wright pictured outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

HEALTH chiefs and union officials are taking a zero tolerance approach to violence against healthcare staff.

The pledge comes as Hartlepool thug Peter Thompson walked free from court after attacking a nurse who was treating him at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in the town’s Holdforth Road.

Figures since April show there have been 18 assaults on staff at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and 20 at the University Hospital of North Tees.

But trust bosses say only four of these were identified as intentional, with police cases ongoing.

Figures across the trust show there were 17 punches, four slaps, four kicks, one bite, one head-butt, three incidents of an object being used, three grabs, two scratches and three pushes.

Of the 38 reported assaults to date, 21 resulted in no injury, eight caused bruising, five caused aches and pains and four resulted in minor abrasions.

Figures for 2010/11 revealed there were 37 attacks at the Hartlepool hospital and 45 at North Tees, as well as six in community services.

The number identified as intentional was eight, with two resulting in a caution or fine and imprisonment.

Trust-wide figures reveal there were 18 punches, seven slaps, nine kicks, four bites, four head-butts, seven incidents of an object being thrown, 12 grabs, 17 scratches, seven pushes and one nip.

Of these assaults, 46 resulted in no injury, 16 caused minor scratches and abrasions, 12 led to bruising and 14 caused aches and pains.

Kevin Oxley, director responsible for health and safety at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We encourage staff to report incidents and we’ve found that many of them are caused by patients whose illnesses affect their behaviour leaving them confused.

“We take all intentional assaults extremely seriously and we have no hesitation in helping to bring these people to justice.

“Staff come to work to care for people and they should not be subject to these types of attack in the course of their duties.

“It is pleasing to see the courts taking these matters seriously and punishing offenders.”

The Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) regional operations manager, Estephanie Dunn, said they take abuse, threats and assaults on nursing staff when delivering care “extremely seriously”.

She added such assaults are never justifiable and that cases are under-reported, meaning figures could be higher.

Miss Dunn said: “Good employers take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of nurses and other staff and we know that zero tolerance policies exist to support this approach.”