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Concerns over future of organisation that tackles violence against NHS staff

Nursing leaders are ‘very concerned’ over what will happen to body that advises on NHS staff safety.
Aggression against staff

Nursing leaders are very concerned over the future of the body that advises on NHS staff safety.

NHS Protect, which leads on work to safeguard NHS staff and resources from crime, is reported to be ending its work at the end of March, according to information given to the BBC.

Its remit is to tackle crime, ranging from bribery and corruption to theft, criminal damage, fraud and violence against staff.

Recent figures from the organisation revealed there were 70,555 attacks on staff between April 2015 and March 2016, up from 67,864 in the previous year.

The government has said a new approach is needed to protect staff at work and it would be making an announcement on the subject soon.

Support needed

RCN chief executive Janet Davies said NHS Protect had supported staff when the police and

Nursing leaders are ‘very concerned’ over the future of the body that advises on NHS staff safety.


Picture: John Powell

NHS Protect, which leads on work to safeguard NHS staff and resources from crime, is reported to be ending its work at the end of March, according to information given to the BBC.

Its remit is to tackle crime, ranging from bribery and corruption to theft, criminal damage, fraud and violence against staff.

Recent figures from the organisation revealed there were 70,555 attacks on staff between April 2015 and March 2016, up from 67,864 in the previous year.

The government has said a ‘new approach’ is needed to protect staff at work and it would be making an announcement on the subject soon.

Support needed

RCN chief executive Janet Davies said NHS Protect had supported staff when the police and the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to take further action.

‘They have actually got some convictions through it, so they have been very supportive to staff on the front line,’ said Ms Davies, speaking on BBC Breakfast.

‘They have worked individually with people who have been assaulted – with some of our nurses and other healthcare professionals.’

Ms Davies said the RCN had not been consulted about any changes.

Lack of communication

‘NHS Protect provides all the training and support to our NHS trusts. We have not been consulted about this change nor officially told that this service is going,’ she said.

‘We are very concerned. At this particular time, we need support more than ever and an agency such as this takes the pressure off the trusts, which are so busy providing care.

‘We need that professional support on security that NHS trusts cannot provide.’

Ms Davies said the RCN was worried because it was unclear what would take NHS Protect’s place.

‘We know that we need more support and protection for our staff, and we need to ensure it is seen as unacceptable to assault a member of NHS staff.’

Government response

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘NHS staff work incredibly hard in a high-pressure environment, and it is unacceptable for them to be subjected to aggression or violence.

‘Trusts should have no hesitation in involving the police and pressing for the strongest penalties against offenders.

‘But given the persistently high numbers of these unacceptable incidents, we believe a new approach is needed to protect staff at work. We will be saying more shortly.’


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