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Government 'failing to protect' nurses from violent attacks

The Government has been accused of failing to enforce its zero tolerance approach on violent attacks on nurses.

Shadow health minister Mike Penning said there were 12,500 assaults on NHS staff in 2007-08, but only 700 criminal sanctions were handed out to the offenders.

He said: "That's not prosecutions, that's just sanctions. Some of them were just cautions. Where is the zero tolerance this Government promised to protect our emergency services?"

During Commons question time, Mr Penning said staff went to work in the NHS to care for the community, but they are being "assaulted by cowards in this country".

In response health minister Ann Keen argued that the Government is taking "serious measures for serious times" and prosecuting offenders was not something "we dismiss in any shape, way or form".

She said violent attacks on NHS staff are something "for all of us to address" and the Government is working with the Crown Prosecution Service and the police to get more prosecutions.


Readers' comments (6)

  • The government is failing nurses full stop.

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  • Nowadays in my opinion its pointless reporting it, nothing gets said or done about it, were expected to take it as part of the job.

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  • Nurses be should be protected from any person who display violence towards them especially female counterparts.Policies need to be set in place for such violent incidents by the Department of Health.

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  • It would help if we were allowed to defend ourselves first of all and eject patients from the hospital immediately without any recourse if we feel they are a danger to us.

    Patients have far too much power on a ward now. They can file a malicious complaint with no grounds and ruin a nurses career and they can get away with it. They can act as they like, demanding whatever they want and they get away with it. They use violence/abuse, spitting/punching/kicking and biting there way through there treatment and they WILL get away with it. Reporting it does nothing, incident reports do nothing, as they remain on the ward and carry on as normal.

    We should have the power as a nurse to ORDER a patient to behave, or get out. If they want treatment, they should comply with our rules. We are not there to get abused and bend over for them.

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  • I have worked as a Nurse since 1992, I have been verbally and physically attacked. No action was taken on any of the 4 incidents by my management, not the government. A patient also put in a complaint against me which was later dropped , the reason being that she admitted jealousy due to having failed her own nursing exams and never qualified. This complaint resulted in me being on long term anti depressants, I later resigned from the dept in which I worked without another job to go to due to managements lack of support. Patients have far too much control over the nursing profession, it is not a profession I enjoy doing anymore as I am constantly watching my back, what I say, what I write. I feel de humanised and de moralised, I wish I never trained as a nurse. The job I onced loved, I now loath.

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  • Mark Sheldon

    Mike Penning is also way off with his figure there were 55,993 not 12,500 as he reports ( see for figures). Almost 40,000 of those were in Mental Health & Learning Disability settings where common factors of adequate staffing levels and better environments would, in my opinion, make a substantial difference in reducing those numbers. NHS Trust Boards also must share some blame - CFSMS training initiatives have been mandatory for some years now yet staff in clinical areas have never heard of for example a PARS Form (Physical Assault Repporting System) or CRT or PSTS training.

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