News

After being spat at, grabbed and hit, nurse urges NHS staff to report attacks on Datix

Incidents go unreported because many nurses don’t know how, warns Stephen McKenna

Incidents go unreported because many nurses don’t know how, warns Stephen McKenna

A nurse who has been attacked multiple times in recent months has called on others to officially record incidents of verbal and physical abuse.

Belfast nurse warns that many assaults on nurses go unreported

Emergency department deputy charge nurse Stephen McKenna, who works for Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said nurses across the UK were regularly subjected to violence and abuse at work.

However, he claimed many did not log incidents because they were too busy or did not know how to do it.

In the past six months Mr McKenna said he had been subjected to at least 15 incidents of

Incidents go unreported because many nurses don’t know how, warns Stephen McKenna

Emergency department deputy charge nurse Stephen McKenna
Stephen McKenna

A nurse who has been attacked multiple times in recent months has called on others to officially record incidents of verbal and physical abuse.

Belfast nurse warns that many assaults on nurses go unreported

Emergency department deputy charge nurse Stephen McKenna, who works for Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said nurses across the UK were regularly subjected to violence and abuse at work.

However, he claimed many did not log incidents because they were too busy or did not know how to do it.

In the past six months Mr McKenna said he had been subjected to at least 15 incidents of physical or verbal abuse and had witnessed nursing colleagues being sworn at and assaulted.

‘People have spat at me. I’ve had crutches thrown at me, people hitting me in the arm and grabbing me,’ he said.

He said this was not unusual for nursing staff but maintained many incidents went unreported.

Verbal and physical attacks can be reported online

One issue was the fact nurses did not know they could log incidents via web-based Datix reporting systems used across the NHS, he explained.

‘Having spoken to a lot of staff in my department – and there are 120 nurses there – many of them said they weren’t aware that you could raise and flag verbal and physical aggression from patients on an incident reporting (IR1) form or Datix.

‘Also, most staff do not report violence and aggression on Datix because they are too busy.’

Without evidence of the sheer scale of the problem he feared employers would be less likely to take action to protect nurses and other staff. ‘Staff have to start recording the incidents to capture the true reflection of what’s happening,’ he said.

His call comes amid concern about rising levels of abuse and violence directed at healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting incidents is vital part of reducing the risk to staff

The 2020 NHS staff survey in England found just over 23% of nurses and midwives said they had experienced at least one incident of violence by patients, relatives or other members of the public in the past 12 months.

RCN national officer Nicola Lee urged nurses to use incident reporting systems as well as reporting incidents to their line managers.

She added: ‘National data collection is a vital part of reducing the risk too many healthcare staff run day in, day out.’

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust director of nursing Brenda Creaney said: 'Any staff member who feels they have experienced abusive behaviour is encouraged to report this to management, or if they feel they are in physical danger they should immediately alert our security staff.'


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs