Illness a factor in rising attacks on health staff

Assault concerns: The number of assaults on staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has risen in the past year, figures show

Assault concerns: The number of assaults on staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has risen in the past year, figures show

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Assaults on hospital staff are on the rise on the Fylde coast – but the number of people prosecuted for the attacks fell last year, new figures show.

Staff working for the trust that runs Blackpool Victoria Hospital were physically assaulted on 142 occasions between April 2013 and March, according to figures released by NHS Protect, the body which identifies and tackles crime across the health service.

However, just four people received a criminal sanction in relation to the assaults.

The figures show a steady rise in attacks on staff at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which have gone up more than 50 per cent in the last five years.

Debbie Mathlouthi, head of risk, health, safety and security at the trust, said: “We encourage staff to report incidents and we take them all very seriously.

“The vast majority of incidents are unintentional and are caused by patients whose illnesses have created confusion and are unable to take responsibility for their own behaviour.

“Sadly in a small number of cases the offenders have no respect for our staff.

“Staff come to work to 
care for people and they should not be subject to these types of incidents in the course of their duties therefore, the security team and myself have no hesitation in helping to bring these people to justice.

“We also will always support staff through these very difficult times.”

The figures, released for every hospital trust in the country, show a national increase in people being punished for attacks on staff members.

However, despite a slight rise in incidents on the Fylde coast last year compared to 2012/13 – from 137 to 142 – the number of people sanctioned actually fell from 16 to four.

Richard Hampton, head of external engagement and services at NHS Protect, said: “No NHS staff should be physically assaulted and we encourage staff who are victims of violence to press charges against assailants.

“Those who work in
the NHS have the right to provide care in a safe environment.

“Employers must do all they can to support staff in preventing incidents and pursuing offenders”.