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Violence against nurses: CQC says trust must take action to protect emergency department staff

Health watchdog's inspection raises concerns for Bristol Royal Infirmary staff

Care Quality Commission inspection found nursing staff at Bristol Royal Infirmary were ill-equipped to deal with the high levels of violence and aggression from patients

A hospital trust has been told to take urgent action after emergency department (ED) staff were found to have faced high levels of violence and aggression from patients.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in February raised concerns about the safety of staff working in the adult ED of Bristol Royal Infirmary and found staff did not feel they had adequate training to deal with incidents.

Training and support needed

Care Quality Commission inspection found nursing staff at Bristol Royal Infirmary were ill-equipped to deal with the high levels of violence and aggression from patients

Bristol Royal Infirmary
Bristol Royal Infirmary Picture: Alamy

A hospital trust has been told to take urgent action after emergency department (ED) staff were found to have faced high levels of violence and aggression from patients.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection in February raised concerns about the safety of staff working in the adult ED of Bristol Royal Infirmary and found staff did not feel they had adequate training to deal with incidents.

Training and support needed to defuse tension and prevent violence from escalating

One member of staff had sustained an injury just before the inspection visit and others had bandages from patient attacks. Staff also told inspectors that they were concerned the incidents were affecting recruitment and retention.

The health watchdog called for staff training and support at the hospital, which is run by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, to help defuse tension and prevent violence from escalating.

In response to the CQC report, the trust explained they had already taken actions to address concerns, including increasing security and extending CCTV coverage, along with the introduction of personal alarms and body-worn cameras.

CQC head of hospital inspections Amanda Williams said: ‘During our inspection, it was clear that staff within Bristol Royal Infirmary’s ED valued and respected each other and supported one another to deliver patient-focused care in incredibly challenging circumstances.

Action needed to protect staff and patients

‘We were however, particularly concerned to find high levels of violence and aggression against staff from patients in the department and to learn that staff did not feel adequately trained to deal with this. We have told the trust that it must take urgent action to protect both staff and patients.

‘Staff need to be given the appropriate training and support to ensure they feel safe and to enable them to defuse tension and prevent violence from escalating.’

The trust’s interim chief nurse Deirdre Fowler welcomed the CQC report and highlighted enhanced staff training.

‘We will take actions to support and to help protect our staff including launching a package of enhanced training designed to help staff manage and de-escalate situations where there is violent or aggressive behaviour,' she said.

Issues with violence are not limited to the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, with the most recent NHS staff survey suggesting that out of 154,662 surveyed, 36,036 (23.8%) of nurses and midwives in England had experienced violence at work from patients or members of the public in the past 12 months.

Find out more

Care Quality Commission (2021) University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust Inspection Report


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