'This is completely unacceptable': Rise in attacks on NHS staff

A rise of attacks on NHS staff in Sandwell is taking place, with health bosses declaring: ‘this is completely unacceptable’.

The number of attacks on NHS staff in Sandwell is rising
The number of attacks on NHS staff in Sandwell is rising

Staff at GP practices have suffered physical assaults, verbal abuse and intimidation from patients.

Four incidents are taking place each month across sites in Sandwell and West Birmingham, according to official figures.

Michelle Carolan, deputy chief officer for quality at NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is completely unacceptable that staff suffer violence and abuse from people they are trying to help.

“We can confirm that the current trend of violence and aggression incidents in GP practices in Sandwell and West Birmingham reflects an ongoing and long-standing national trend.

“Locally, a total of four incidents on average are reported per month, which can range from actual physical assaults on members of staff to verbal harassment or intimidating behaviour.

“We will continue to take strong action to protect NHS staff from suffering unacceptable violence or abuse by patients or relatives.”

The CCG said there had been a ‘low level trend’ since it started in 2013 but had noticed an ‘upturn’ in reports the following year. There are 96 GP practices under the authority of Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, which serves around 530,000 people.

Preet Gill, Birmingham Edgbaston MP, said the safety of doctors and nurses needed to be ensured.

But she also called on the CCG to provide more clarification over the data.

Ms Gill, who is a former cabinet member for public health and protection at Sandwell Council, said: “None of our public service staff when carrying out their duty should be at risk or threat from any member of the public. Doctors work extremely hard to provide the best possible care.

“It would be helpful if the CCG put the data into some form of context, such as has there been a spike in attacks, what are the circumstances and factors behind them such as mental health.

“We need to get a better understanding of the data in order to ensure that we are prioritising the safety of doctors and patients.” Sandwell CCG says patients can get removed from practices of they become abusive.”

Ms Carolan added: “In the event of serious physical and verbal abuse patients will be removed, without warning, from the practice list or the abuse may warrant a warning letter rather than immediate removal.

“Delivering an environment that is safe and secure for staff is essential to ensure that our GP Practices continue to offer the highest standards of care to our patients.”

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