Calls for ‘zero tolerance’after statistics revealed for hospital
Hairmyres Hospital staff have been subjected to violence 605 times over the last three years while in the line of duty.
The News obtained figures from NHS Lanarkshire and Police Scotland under the Freedom of Information Act which show staff at the East Kilbride hospital have fallen victim to assaults, telephone abuse, threatening and intimidating behaviour and verbal abuse whilst caring for patients.
Attacks on staff, including emergency workers, vary from common assaults and serious assaults to assaults with an offensive weapon and include services within the hospital, such as mental health services, old age psychiatry and intensive psychiatric units.
However, the figures show there has been a 27 per cent drop in the total number of attacks since 2014.
Last year there were 83 assaults on staff by patients and one assault on staff listed as ‘by other’ – a 24 per cent drop from the previous year.
A broken bottle was used in two separate weapon attacks on hospital workers in 2016.
Threatening and intimidating behaviour dropped by 20 per cent from 50 to 40 incidents in 2014 and 2015 but rose by 7.5 per cent last year.
Staff at the acute hospital repeatedly found themselves on the receiving end of verbal abuse with 160 reports listed last year.
However, figures for Hairmyres have more than halved in the last two years (59 per cent).
Of the three acute hospitals in Lanarkshire, Wishaw General has seen the highest number of incidents with 1044 recorded.
In one incident in 2014, a staff member was attacked with a knife.
There have been 568 reports of violence at Monklands Hospital over the last three years.
A total of 2217 incidents of violence took place against hospital workers in Lanarkshire hospitals between 2014 and 2016 – 756 last year (an increase of five per cent year on year).
And last year alone there were 6583 incidents of violence across the whole of Scotland.
Responding to the figures, Dr Lisa Cameron, MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, called for “zero tolerance”.
“We must have zero tolerance regarding attacks on our NHS and emergency staff,” she said.
“Whilst I welcome that the number of incidents have reduced significantly at Hairmyres Hospital over the past two years, one assault is one too many. Further work must clearly be done on violence reduction and staff security.
“We must tackle it collectively involving the community and I plan to meet with NHS staff, management and the police to give them my full support in doing so. I have already contacted NHS Lanarkshire in relation to the number of assaults on staff.
“I thank the East Kilbride News for bringing this important issue to the fore.”
East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani said: “Our NHS staff work incredibly hard in a high-pressure environment and it is completely unacceptable for them to be subject to any type of aggression or violence as they go about their work.
“I note that the overall number of assaults against NHS staff in our three major hospitals has decreased from three years ago, particularly at Hairmyres – in fact, Hairmyres is the only hospital in Lanarkshire to have seen a decrease in these incidents.
“It’s still not an acceptable level, though, and the full force of the law should be applied when dealing with the perpetrators.”
In a statement, the health board said: “NHS Lanarkshire continually works in partnership with local police in the management of aggressive and violent individuals. Training is compulsory for NHS Lanarkshire staff to provide staff with the skills needed to assist in the prevention, prediction and management of violence and aggression.
“Staff are actively encouraged to report incidents. The reported information is continually being used to inform future actions. All incidents are recorded on our electronic incident reporting system, DATIX. Revised subcategory options were implemented from February 1, 2014. This along with improved reporting has resulted in increased numbers over earlier years.”