Hospital staff are in the firing line more than ever.
The shocking level of violence faced by doctors, nurses and carers at Huddersfield and Calderdale hospitals has been revealed.
A report by NHS Protect has detailed the hundreds incidents of physical and verbal abuse by patients on the staff who are trying to care for them at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital during 2013/14.
While the overall amount of incidents reported across a host of categories has decreased by a third from 691 to 472, incidents of “physical abuse, assault or violence” have increased, following two years of decreases.
The majority of incidents occur in A&E.
A report to Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust’s (CHFT) board reveals 37 of the 91 incidents in A&E were reported to the police – but just one resulted in a conviction in the courts.
The patient was ordered to pay a £110 fine, £100 compensation and £110 court costs after being physically abusive to an A&E doctor at HRI.
Hospital chiefs have arranged for a regular police presence at Calderdale Royal Hospital’s A&E while HRI has its own base for officers.
Despite this, 119 serious physical attacks on CHFT staff were reported last year, up from 85 in 2012/13.
Serious incidents include lashing out, holding on to staff and not letting go, and kicking.
A quarter of the serious incident were attributed to patients’ suffering from dementia, learning disabilities or other mental health issues.
But it is thought many more are due to clinical conditions, making it impossible for hospital officials to press charges.
Deputy director of nursing Jackie Murphy, said: “Our Trust is firmly of the view that our staff, who are providing NHS care to the public, should be able to do so without fear of violence or abuse.
“Front line staff receive training to help them recognise and diffuse potential situations and are actively encouraged to report any incident – as reflected in the figures - as part of a very robust zero tolerance policy on violence and abuse.”
Rory Deighton Director of Healthwatch Kirklees said: “These incidents affect all of us. The vast majority of patients recognise the fantastic job that hospital staff do for them and it is clearly unacceptable that a minority of patients act in this way.
“Healthwatch will support any action taken by the Trust that reduces physical abuse, assaults or violence towards staff.”
The overall drop in incidents has largely been due to falls in three categories.
The “Disruptive and aggressive behaviour” category has seen the largest fall in incidents from 228 to 118 – almost 50%.
“Abuse by visitor/public” and “Abuse - other” have also dropped considerably from a total of 129 to 72.
Verbal abuse has also dropped to 121 incidents from a high of 253 two years ago.
There were no assaults with a weapon and sexual incidents dropped from nine to three, although racial incidents rose from five to seven.
The figures also reveal one suicide took place on hospital premises during 2013/14.
Want to read, watch and hear more? You can download the FREE Examiner Apple App here, the FREE Examiner Android App here or you can view the paper as an e-edition on your Apple, Android or Kindle device by clicking here
To follow us on Twitter click here