Radio presenter calls for law change to protect NHS staff from violence

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition to make it a criminal offence to attack NHS staff.

Parliament is set to debate if there should be a change in the law making it a criminal offence to attack NHS staff after a petition on the issue received more than 100,000 signatures.

Radio presenter Nick Ferrari, who hosts radio station LBC, has set
up the Guard our Emergency Medical Services petition.

The petition is part of the Guard our Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) campaign, set up by radio presenter Nick Ferrari who hosts a weekday breakfast show on London-based radio station LBC.

An LBC investigation found that assaults on NHS staff have risen to 193 per day over the past five years, and political figures such as Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron have given the GEMS campaign their backing.

Parliament must consider petitions with more than 100,000 signatures for a debate, and a debate is set for 27 February.

Specific offence 

There were 70,555 attacks on staff from April 2015 to March 2016, compared with 67,864 in the previous year.

Mr Ferrari claims NHS staff should be offered similar legal protection to police officers under the Police Act 1996, which makes it a specific offence to attack a police officer conducting their duties.

He said: ‘When I heard the scale of assaults on NHS staff in this country, I was truly appalled. These are people who are there for us when we need them most and on occasions we thank them by assaulting them or causing them physical harm.

‘I decided to do everything I could to assist them, but more importantly, my listeners joined in in their tens of thousands and within two weeks of the campaign, we already had the prime minister addressing it during prime minister’s questions. The fight does not end there. We must show those who care for us that we care for them.’

Last month the RCN called for the government to take action and introduce a national programme to tackle violence before the issue spiralled out of control.

Care and respect 

RCN senior employment relations adviser Kim Sunley said: ‘This campaign is vital in raising awareness of the dangers NHS staff face – and why willful assaults must never be tolerated. Nursing staff need to be treated with the care and respect they show patients every day.’

Earlier this month, Nursing Standard revealed that the overall bill for compensation payments and legal costs for NHS staff injuries in 2015-16 was £47.5 million, which included cases were staff were assaulted.

There were 2,889 non-clinical claims brought by NHS staff in 2015-16, according to figures obtained by Nursing Standard from the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), which handles negligence and other claims against the NHS in England.

The £47.5 million amount includes compensation paid out to claimants, plus all associated legal costs for both the claimant and defence.

Claims ranged from straightforward slips and trips to serious workplace manual handling injuries, and those related to assaults, bullying and stress.

Sign the petition here

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