The NHS signalled tougher action against patients and hospital visitors who abuse staff. From April this year, anyone inflicting discriminatory or harassing behaviour on NHS staff in England could be denied non-emergency care.
Previously, individual health organisations could only refuse services to patients if they were aggressive or violent. The announcement was made as new figures revealed that 28.5% of NHS staff said they had experienced harassment, bullying, or abuse from patients, relatives, or members of the public within the last 12 months.
The survey also revealed a high level of abuse experienced by staff at the hands of their own colleagues and managers. In a letter to the health workforce today, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 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 that any member of the public would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often.”
Results from the NHS Staff Survey 2019 also showed that:
36.9% of NHS staff who have frequent face-to-face contact with patients experienced at least one episode of bullying in the last 12 months
12.3% said they had been bullied by managers, and 19% by other colleagues
14.9% experienced physical violence, up slightly from 14.6% in 2018
NHS England reported that 7.2% of staff said they faced discrimination from patients over the last year – up from 5.8% in 2015. It said racism was the most common form of discrimination reported but that 2019 also saw the highest levels of sexism, and intolerance of religion and sexuality.
Earlier this month, The Doctors’ Association UK said medical staff were too frequently subjected to bullying and harassment. Excerpt from Medscape, read the full article:
Our full quote to Medscape: Dr Rinesh Parmar, DAUK Chair said: “Whilst there have been many improvements seen in the NHS Staff Survey we are extremely concerned that staff are reporting increasing levels of discrimination, in particular from patients, relatives and members of the public. BAME doctors make up a valued part of our workforce, as do International Medical Graduates, without which the NHS would collapse. Many BME doctors have told us they do not feel welcome in the UK anymore and there is no doubt this a reflection of this government’s hostile environment. We must do more to value BAME staff as well as those who have trained abroad, without whom the NHS would simply cease to function.”
Read our full press release: