- Chris Morris
- Mar 6, 2016
- 4694 Views
A survey conducted among NHS staff in Gloucestershire paints a sobering picture of the level of assault and abuse that appears to be routine in the health service.
NHS staff working at hospitals in Gloucestershire stated that they’ve been assaulted and abused by patients, their relatives and even other staff members over the last twelve months.
In fact, nearly 20% of those who responded had experienced some form of physical violence during the previous calendar year.
Additionally, bullying, harassment and abuse from patients, relatives and the general public had been encountered by 30% of respondents.
The annual survey also found 26% had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from other staff members during the same period.
Responding to the results of the survey, unions have condemned the state of health service workers’ conditions, and called for action from trusts and other major health bodies to ensure that staff both feel, and actually are, safe.
Andrew Christaki, the Royal College of Nursing’s senior officer for Gloucestershire, was extremely critical of the level of bullying bullying and harassment in the health service, and suggested that health workers have a right to expect the authorities to deal with this more effectively.
“Nursing staff come to work to deliver safe, excellent care for their patients, and have a right to expect to be protected from threats of violence or bullying. It is crucial that employers do all they can to safeguard their staff. This means having safe staffing levels, proper training and systems in place to call for help quickly if it is needed.”
In addition to the problems caused by bullying and harassment, the survey also suggested that health workers have to cope with extreme crashes due to insufficient funding and staffing.
68% of respondents were working extra hours, 34% had suffered work-related stress in the last year, while 66% had felt under pressure to attend work when feeling unwell in the last three months.
Joanne Galazka, Unite’s regional officer for Gloucester, opined that the results indicated that the health service is currently “creaking at the seams due to this government’s failure to provide sufficient funding for the NHS.”
Galazka continued: “We have 500 members at the trust, working long hours trying to paper over the cracks in the system due to staff shortages and lengthening waiting lists. Therefore, it is not surprising that stress levels rise and morale is not good as a result.”
Dave Smith, director of human resources and organisational development, at the Gloucester Foundation Trust, defended the conduct of the organisation, and suggested that robust procedures are in place to deal with any such problems.
“Staff are encouraged to report all such incidents no matter how minor. We recognise that this can be stressful which is why our staff receive special training within their field. We also offer a wide range of additional support services so staff can manage this element of their job. On the small number of occasions when staff do suffer intentional violence or aggression we have robust systems in place to protect and support them.”