Health Secretary Matt Hancock condemns abuse or violence to NHS staff: 'It is not part of the job'

Frontline NHS staff have been urged to report any incident or abuse or violence so those responsible can be held to account, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said today.

By Martina Moscariello
Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 11:09 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 11:11 am

In a new letter to NHS workers, Matt Hancock condemned any abuse staff may face and paid tribute to the NHS’ continued work to prevent and reduce violence.

Last month, a drunken patient was jailed for eight months after assaulting staff and security officers at Scarborough Hospital.

Benjamin Fawcett, 33, was being treated for a head injury on June 2 last year when he threatened and pushed A&E workers, punched a doctor and kicked a police officer.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has sent a letter to NHS staff.

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Drunken patient Benjamin Fawcett lashed out at Scarborough Hospital staff and sp...

In the wake of the latest figures, showing over 15 per cent of NHS staff still reported experiencing violence or abuse from patients or members of the public, the Health Secretary warned this will not be tolerated or accepted.

In his letter to staff he said: "There is far too much violence against NHS staff, and too much acceptance that it’s part of the job. Far too often I hear stories that the people you are trying to help lash out. I’ve seen it for myself in A&Es, on night shifts, and on ambulances. I am horrified that any member of the public would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often. The 2019 NHS Staff Survey showed 15% of NHS staff experienced physical violence from members of the public and patients in the past year – this rises to 34% among ambulance trust staff.

"It is appalling that this happens at all. Even more so that it happens disproportionately to black and minority ethnic staff. It is a tribute to you, your professionalism and your resilience that so often you persevere in providing the highest quality care, despite the small minority who are abusive towards you. I want you to know that the Government and the public are firmly on your side. We will not tolerate assaults - physical or verbal - against NHS colleagues - staff or volunteers. You should not tolerate violence or abuse either. Being assaulted or abused is not part of your job."

The Health Secretary also highlighted how black and minority ethnic staff are more likely to experience violence, with BME staff 14 per cent more likely to experience violence from members of the public or patients.

He urged anyone at the receiving end of abuse to report it.

According to Mr Hancock, a new agreement between the police, the NHS and the Crown Prosecution Service is making it easier to investigate and prosecute assaults or hate crimes against frontline staff. As a result of landmark legislation introduced in 2018, jail terms for these offences have been doubled.

Alongside this, he says, the NHS is investing £249 million to roll out liaison mental health teams in every acute hospital by the end of the year to ensure people in crisis get the care they need, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The forthcoming NHS People Plan will set out plans to ensure all staff can carry out their jobs without fear of violence.