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'It’s time to tell employers that your safety matters'


It feels a bit “tabloid” to say this, but nurses are putting themselves at risk, just by going to work.

Our exclusive investigation ‘NHS nurses suffer more than 8,800 serious industrial injuries in three years’ shows that nearly 9,000 “serious” injuries to nursing staff occurred from 2008 to 2011. The top three causes were slips or trips, assault and manual handling.

It’s unsurprising that nurses are the group most likely to have accidents at work, and they constitute nearly 43% of the 20,547 incidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive between 2008 and 2011. As the biggest group of health professionals, it is a statistical probability that most accident reports will include a nurse’s name.

But these are no paper cuts, the incidents reported are those deemed serious enough to leave a person unable to work for over three days, and so should be the equivalent of “never events” in the staff handbook. Trusts should have adequate policies, security and training to ensure such incidences never threaten the safety of those in charge of the safety of others.

But these figures call into question whether trusts do enough to protect their staff. This is why we’re following up this investigation with the launch of Your Safety Matters, our campaign aiming to find out just how safe your places of work are so we can pressurise your employers to minimise your risk of injury.

You can let us know where you think your employer is failing you by emailing us at, tweeting us (using the hashtag #yoursafety) or via our Nursing Times Facebook page. Or if you prefer to remain anonymous, visit our forums, where you can make suggestions for improvements.

Don’t let someone else take responsibility. The profession’s safety - and your own - is in your hands.


Readers' comments (6)

  • It may be a bit Tabloid Jenni, but it is absolutely right; and let us not forget on top of the physical risk, there is the stress, the mental health issues, the burnout...

    And for this we get slated, accused and attacked at every turn. Our pay is insultingly low, our pensions and increments are attacked ... Why the hell do Nurses put up with it?

    It is time we started standing up as a profession and DEMANDING decent and safe working conditions, and we should bloody well start demanding danger money on top of a vastly increased salary too!

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  • The office I and my team work in has been deemed unsafe by Health and Safety but they are not willing to spend money on making it safe. The Trust is willing to accept the risk to our well-being. Makes us feel valued as employees as you can imagine!

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  • I work in mental health and as such visit people with various means of attack. Baseball bats,crow bars propped up next to the front door. I have visited people with bows and arrows,cross bows various items of kung fu equipment. The Police have been informed and we're told as long as they don't use them it's alright. As for our Trust we're told as long as we visit in two's it will be alright.
    In fact what it is ,is the beginnings of a news conference in which one of the Trust directors spouts the usual "It was a tragic incident but be assured lessons will be learnt"Question is will they ever?

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  • Anonymous | 30-Aug-2011 6:01 pm

    I work in mental health and as such visit people with various means of attack.

    Re Above...I work as a District Nursing Sister in the community and visit similar. I do have a mobile phone which I can use as per lone worker, as I'm sure you do as well Anonymous...Don't know about you, but I know I wouldn't be able to get my phone out in time to use it before they used their weapon!

    Re Health and Safety, I to work from an office that has been deemed unsafe but told 'there's nothing we can do'.

    The private sector would never put up with treatment like this.

    Jenni - It's not only 'the risk of injury'. The Lean approach and releasing time to care is a great cause for concern, as it means we are being asked to do more 'with less'. Therefore depleting resources = more risk of injury/accidents!

    Mike 30-Aug-2011 11:20 am
    You often state 'It is time we started standing up as a profession' Apart from striking, speaking up to manager's who don't/won't listen have you any idea how we progress?

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  • Anonymous | 30-Aug-2011 9:05 pm we don't. It's as simple as that.

    As has been aptly shown by the posts above and many other threads, the profession is filled with people who are quite frankly prepared to simply put up with these conditions and others. Unsafe staffing levels, unsafe working conditions, etc etc. They are all part of the same problem, and still people bend over and take it.


    We need to stop accepting all of these conditions, as you so rightly say, the private sector wouldn't put up with it! So why should we?

    I had a very interesting conversation with a friend the other day and I said to him if human rights lawyers or health and safety lawyers were to march through the NHS on Nurses behalf, they would have a bloody field day! And I was right!

    Perhaps that is one route to take ALONGSIDE (and I stress that word) vigorous strike action. But the problem is, our piss poor bloody unions will not do it! Maybe we need to call the guys in the train/tube workers unions, get them to take a job in the RCN!

    Perhaps what is needed is a few high profile court cases where managers/trust execs/the government itself are legally and financially held to account for these piss poor conditions, allowing workers to work in sub standard conditions, unsafe conditions, with unsafe staffing levels, etc, they would not have a leg to stand on in court, and you can bet they'll start changing things then!

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  • I work for a company that offers Lone Worker Solutions for these very cases.

    I am speaking to numerous Mental Health Trusts but finding it really difficult to breakdown the barriers. Nurses shouldn't be put at risk but I feel that nothing will happen till some get seriously injured or even killed (similar to how estate agents took note after the Susie Lamplugh incident)

    In this day and age of cut backs that is used far to often as an excuse - however what price do you put on a Nurse ???

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