Shock figures: rise in physical assaults on hospital staff

Reports of abuse have risen by 85% in Scarborough
Reports of abuse have risen by 85% in Scarborough

Physical assaults on medical staff at scarborough Hospital have almost trebled in recent years, exclusive figures reveal.

More than 150 reports of abuse have been filed at the hospital in the past three years, including six attacks by patients with a weapon on hospital staff – and some staff faced verbal abuse from colleagues.

The figures, obtained by The Scarborough News from York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, reveal there were almost four times more cases of staff on staff verbal abuse recorded at Scarborough Hospital than there were at York Hospital between April 2016 and March 2017.

A former member of staff at Scarborough Hospital said: “I have become aware that staff sickness absence has become a serious problem with staff suffering from stress.

“One member of staff told me that GPs in Scarborough now consider staff being stressed has reached epidemic levels. This cannot be good for patients or the financial state as agency and locum staff cost far more.”

Figures show that more recorded reports of verbal abuse towards staff came from other staff members than patients and relatives combined last year. The only recording of physical assault or violence towards staff by a fellow staff member since 2014 was recorded last year at Scarborough Hospital.

Abuse towards medical staff, such as doctors and nurses, is also on the rise.

There were 152 incidents of abuse recorded in the past three years – with reports increasing 86% from 2014/15 to 2016/17.

Staff across the foundation trust’s services, including hospitals in Scarborough, York and Bridlington and community services, faced physical assault or violence almost twice a week.

As the shocking figures reveal, abusive attacks are becoming more violent as physical assaults or violence has risen 170% since 2014/15.

Across the trust’s services, 19 violent patients have attacked staff with a weapon in the past three years – six were recorded at Scarborough Hospital.

While an incident of abuse was recorded almost every day across the services last year.

In one case, an Asian doctor was the subject of racial abuse, which led to two people being arrested with one being charged for using racial slurs. Both were fined at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court.

A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The increase in rates of abuse and assault is due to more accurate reporting of incidents by staff.

“The Trust has encouraged staff to recognise the significance of incidents of abuse and made it easier for them to report these internally.

“Security on our hospital sites is a priority for the Trust, and any incident of violence or aggression against our staff is one too many.

“We aim to provide a safe and secure place for staff, visitors and patients.

“Since acquiring Scarborough Hospital in 2012 we have introduced onsite security and there are now three security guards who cover the site 24 hours a day.

“The hospital is also covered by CCTV.

“Since the introduction of onsite security, staff have told us that they feel safer at work and are more confident in reporting any concerns to the security team.”