Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Attacks on Sheffield hospital staff 'fall'

Attacks on hospital staff in Sheffield have dropped in the past year, officials have said.

Managers at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said figures for the past year showed 790 incidents compared to 1,105 for 2010.

Officials said patients' medical conditions were a factor in many of the incidents.

Health workers' union Unison said any level of abuse faced by healthcare staff was unacceptable.

In a statement, the trust said a recent review of all incidents showed that 96% of reported assaults were associated with the medical conditions of patients rather than being deliberate attacks.

A high percentage of incidents related to patients suffering from brain injuries, withdrawing from drink and drugs or suffering a particular reaction to medication.

'Deliberate intimidation'

Professor Hilary Chapman, chief nurse and chief operating officer, said she was very encouraged by the figures.

"Many patients are not deliberately aggressive or violent but due their medical condition sometimes assaults can occur.

"We do carry out appropriate risk assessments and always try to ensure that we have the correct staff in place to care for patients' safely.

"However, in other cases deliberate intimidation or violence can occur and we have a zero-tolerance policy which reflects our attitude to this."

Charlie Carruth, Unison regional officer, said any abuse was unacceptable.

He said: "If you look at accident and emergency departments, verbal abuse is commonplace and health workers operating in the community, along with ambulance workers, are finding incidents of abuse rising.

"Some people think the health staff are part of 'the system' and they can kick back against it.

"Let's not be complacent, staff are taking abuse they should not have to take. If people are found to have attacked healthcare workers we expect the trust to take the necessary steps."

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