One in four staff at Isle of Wight NHS Trust abused by patients

More than one in four staff across the Isle of Wight NHS have experienced abuse towards them by patients in the last 12 months.

The statistics were released as government health secretary Matt Hancock announced new measures to protect workers.

Results from the 2019 NHS staff survey revealed dramatic levels of health workers have suffered from abuse, bullying or harassment directed towards them by patients or service users, and other members of the public, while doing their jobs.

Of ambulance staff at Isle of Wight NHS Trust who answered the survey, 57 per cent of disabled and 28.8 per cent of non-disabled staff said they had experienced issues — a ten per cent increase of incidents against disabled staff compared to 2018.

Mr Hancock sent a letter to all NHS staff earlier this week saying every health worker deserves to work in a ‘safe, caring and compassionate environment’, introducing new rules to shield workers from abuse.

Medical professionals can refuse to treat patients or visitors, in non-emergency cases, who are aggressive or discriminatory towards them.

Mr Hancock 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 any member of the public would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often.”

Currently, medical staff can refuse to treat verbally aggressive or physically violent patients but this will now extend the policy to include any harassment including homophobia, sexism or racism.

In the community sector of the IW NHS Trust nearly 30 per cent of non-disabled and 53.3 per cent of disabled staff were met with problematic encounters.

Staff in the mental health area of the trust also faced harassment, bullying or abuse with 45.5 per cent of non-disabled and 38.9 per cent of disabled staff experiencing incidents.

Mr Hancock also said the NHS has joined forces with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure those who act violently and ‘with criminal intent’ towards staff are ‘brought to justice’.

In the acute sector, 32.6 per cent of disabled and 28 per cent of non-disabled staff experienced harassment while trying to do their jobs.

A spokesperson for Isle of Wight NHS Trust said: “Bullying, harassment and abuse of NHS staff is totally unacceptable and we will take all the necessary steps to ensure that people are safe and supported at work.

“Our staff work extremely hard, in often challenging roles, and they deserve to be treated with respect.

“Our new Respect Campaign will seek to tackle bullying, harassment and abuse from any source through training and improvements to our reporting and support processes.”