Assaults on mental health staff up 25% in four years

From BBC - October 7, 2017

Mental health staff in the UK are working in a "powder keg" environment, as assaults by patients soar, a BBC investigation has revealed.

Figures obtained by 5 live Investigates show there were more than 42,000 reported attacks on staff in 2016-17 in the mental health trusts who responded.

The figure is more than a quarter higher than for the corresponding trusts four years earlier.

Health bosses say violence on NHS staff is "completely unacceptable".

Nearly two-thirds of mental health trusts in the UK provided data under a Freedom of Information request, which revealed assaults increased from 33,620 in 2012-13 to 42,692 last year.

They included a healthcare assistant who was stabbed to death and a worker having part of their thumb bitten off.

England, where assaults were up by more than a third, accounted for the vast majority of the rise.

The number of attacks recorded by providers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland showed little or no overall rise.

There were also more than 17,000 assaults by patients on other patients in the UK last year.

Sharon Morris and a colleague had taken two patients out into a courtyard so they could have a cigarette when she was punched to the ground.

Her attacker hit her several times in the face before she passed out. She was taken to hospital suffering from concussion and bruising to her face.

"I had known the patient for 18 months, and the attack came out of the blue. I think it was opportunistic.

"I have been a nurse for 30 years and had scratches and been shouted at before, but nothing as serious as this."

'Powder keg'

Sharon was off work for weeks and suffers from flashbacks and panic attacks. She no longer works with mental health patients.

Staff shortages


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