2014-15 figures released for reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England

The 2014-15 figures for reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England were released today, provided by all NHS trusts in England and collated by NHS Protect.

There have been 67,864 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England in 2014-15 (a small reduction of 819 from 68,683 in 2013-14).

Criminal sanctions following reported assaults increased slightly in the same 2014-15 period to 1,679 (up by 30 from 1,649 in 2013-14) and have increased noticeably since the pre-2004 period.

2014-15 is also the first year that civil and administrative sanctions have been reported (there were 1,077).

Richard Hampton, Head of External Engagement and Services at NHS Protect, said today:

No NHS staff should be physically assaulted and we encourage staff who are victims of violence to report it, so that appropriate action can be taken.

While it is encouraging to see the total figure going in the right direction there is no room for complacency after this small reduction in reported assaults. We urge all health bodies, in all sectors, to take advantage of the joint working agreement with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. They can build local arrangements on this national agreement to ensure criminal assaults are identified and do not go unpunished.”

The 2014 NHS staff survey showed a possible 34% non-reporting of incidents of violence (albeit a lower percentage than the previous year), so it is reasonable to assume some under-reporting of physical assaults.

Mr Hampton explained what will be done specifically to better protect staff in NHS mental health settings: a new partnership protocol by NHS Protect, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Crown Prosecution Service will shortly be launched:

It is designed to help the NHS, police and CPS work together to respond to incidents of crime, investigate and take appropriate cases forward for prosecution in this sector.”

NHS Protect has been included in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 with powers to apply for civil injunctions on behalf of NHS health bodies for the purpose of preventing individuals from engaging in anti-social behavior on NHS premises.

NHS Protect is also encouraging NHS organisations to:

  • work locally with police and other outside organisations to deal with lower-level anti-social and nuisance behaviour, including alcohol related incidents, using the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme. Guidance for the NHS will be launched shortly.
  • ensure staff are trained to meet NHS Protect’s conflict resolution training standards to calmly defuse and de-escalate situations.
  • use available powers to respond decisively to low level aggression before it escalates into violence against staff (under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008).
  • take help and advice from NHS Protect’s network of Area Security Management Specialists. They provide guidance to local security managers and assist in assessing risks of assault, addressing these through prevention work and pursuing legal action when assaults do occur.
  • use NHS Protect’s ‘Meeting needs and reducing distress – Guidance on the prevention and management of clinically related challenging behaviour in NHS settings’.
  • be aware that NHS Protect has been included in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014 in order to provide new tools for dealing with persistent anti-social behaviour within the NHS.

A detailed breakdown of the figures can be found here.