500 assaults on Midlands NHS staff over a year

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Almost 500 assaults on NHS staff were reported at health trusts in the West Midlands and Staffordshire in a year, figures today reveal.

A total of 497 assaults on staff were recorded from April 2012 to March 2013, figures from NHS Protect show.

While some of these attacks are put down to medical factors such as medication or mental illness, NHS Protect urged all staff to report assaults and acts of violence following a five per cent rise in total reported assaults across the country.

The number of attacks in Walsall went up by more than 50 per cent, while there were also increases in Wolverhampton and Sandwell.

A total of 147 were reported at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for 2012 to 2013, of which 126 involved medical factors - up from 97 the year before.

Jayne Tunstall, chief operating officer at the trust, said: "All incidents of physical assault, threatening behaviour and verbal abuse are reported by staff on the trust's electronic Safeguard Incident Reporting system and managers are alerted to any incident involving a member of their staff.

"Any staff involved in such incidents are offered full support from the trust including a full assessment from our Occupational Health team."

A security team is on hand at the trust, which runs Walsall Manor Hospital, seven days a week, she added.

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust said it had 65 assaults on staff in 2012 to 2013. This was up slightly from 62 the year before.


No criminal action was taken against anyone in either year.

A spokesperson for the trust said: "The Trust takes all reported assaults and the safety of its staff very seriously.

"Sixty of these reported assaults were by patients with medical conditions which meant the Trust – in agreement with the staff involved – did not deem it appropriate to take further action.

"With regard to the other five cases, any further action has to be led by the member of staff concerned, with the Trust's full support. Again, the staff involved did not wish to take further action."


And at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust, which runs Sandwell General Hospital, City Hospital in Birmingham and care hubs in Rowley Regis and Leasowes, there were 198 assaults on staff - up from 180 the previous year.

Toby Lewis, chief executive, said: "The most recent national NHS staff survey results indicate that our staff are now experiencing less harassment, bullying or abuse from patients than in previous years.

"In order to protect our staff, the Trust introduced a patient specific risk assessment which aims to identify how violent a patient may become."

He said sanctions were only put in place as a 'last resort'.

At Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust there was a dramatic fall in the number of staff assaults in 2012 to 2013, compared to the previous year.

Last year, there were 13 staff assaults, of which nine involved medical factors, while in 2011 to 2012, there were 165 reported.

Jeff Crawshaw, deputy chief executive at the Foundation Trust, said: "The numbers have decreased because the current figures relate specifically to deliberate assaults on staff and no longer include incidents such as when a confused patient hits out at a member of staff.

"Our security team monitors all security incidents including assaults on staff. We look for trends so we can support our clinical colleagues through increasing our security rounds, and having an increased visible presence across the hospital."

Figures for the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust revealed there were 74 assaults on staff in 2012 to 2013, of which 24 were down to medical factors.

This was down from 87 the year before.

But just one resulted in criminal action, figures provided by the trust to NHS Protect reveal.

A spokesman for the hospital said: "We appreciate that violence and aggression is sometimes driven by fear or confusion, or the patient's medical condition and, as a result, our staff are very often reluctant to report incidents or take further action," she said.

She added CCTV was in place 24 hours a day at the Trust's three hospitals, while a Hospital Watch scheme had been running for the past four years.

Attack figures in full:

  • Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust: 147 attacks on staff in 2012/13, up from 97 in 2011/12
  • Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust: 65 in 2012/13, up from 62 in 2011/12
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust: 198 in 2012/13, up from 180 in 2011/12
  • Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust: 74 in 2012/13, down from 87 in 2011/12
  • Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust: 13 in 2012/13, down from 165 in 2011/12

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