An NHS trust in North East England is harnessing the heart-melting power of childhood innocence in a new hard-hitting campaign to protect its staff against abuse in the workplace.
Children of frontline workers at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have made a plea to patients and relatives to let healthcare professionals do their job without fear of abuse.
“It is completely unacceptable for them to be subject to any form of violence or aggression”
The initiative, similar to one used by London Underground, will see photographs of the youngsters asking visitors to keep their relatives safe being displayed around the trust ready for the winter, when activity is expected to increase in the emergency department.
The children are dressed up in the uniforms of the professions of their parents or grandparents, including a nurse, doctor, porter and receptionist.
The latest staff survey carried out at the trust showed 15% of respondents had experienced violence from patients, relatives and members of the public in the last 12 months.
And leaders at North Tees and Hartlespool said frontline workers in the region had anecdotally reported further increases in the levels of disorder, intimidation and abuse they were facing at work.
As part of its zero-tolerance approach against violence, the trust has already given all security staff a body camera to wear to support any police investigation that needs to be carried out into attacks.
Julie Gillon, chief executive at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all staff who work in our hospitals and community settings. This includes protecting them whilst they deliver care to the people of North Tees and Hartlepool.
“Unfortunately, there has been an increase in reported incidents of violence and I hope this campaign acts as a reminder to members of the public that staff work incredibly hard and it is completely unacceptable for them to be subject to any form of violence or aggression,” she said.
Kara Pickering is a communications assistant at the trust and her son, Oliver, is pictured in one of the campaign posters.
She said: “Seeing my little boy dressed up in scrubs really sends home the message that there’s a human being behind the uniform, many of whom have their own children at home.
“I really hope that other people recognise this too, and that the campaign makes a real difference for those who just want to care for their patients,” she added.
This month a new law is coming into effect which doubles the maximum prison term for anyone who attacks NHS staff in the course of their duties in England and Wales from six to twelve months.
At the end of October, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock also revealed a new NHS violence reduction strategy, which includes measures designed to better protect staff.
- New strategy pledges ‘stronger protection’ from violence for NHS staff
- New law doubles prison terms for those who assault nurses