No let-up in assaults on nurses, despite COVID-19 crisis

Assaults and aggression towards emergency workers in England, including spitting, remain at 2019 levels

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Dozens of nurses and other emergency workers are facing ‘coronavirus attacks’ at work every day, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has warned.

Despite the country being under lockdown, about 50 assaults on emergency workers are still being prosecuted each day – the same frequency of assaults seen in 2019, England's director of public prosecutions Max Hill QC said.

'I am talking about dozens of examples every day of spitting or coughing or assaulting emergency workers,’ Mr Hill told ITV News.

Six months in jail for man who spat at nurse 

A man has been jailed for six months for spitting at a nurse who was trying to monitor his heartbeat at the Arrowe Park Hospital emergency unit in Merseyside on 2 April.

David Newton refused to stop, and instead continued coughing, spitting, kicking out and swearing at the nurse. 

The next day, Mr Newton pleaded guilty at Wirral Magistrates’ Court to assaulting an emergency worker, and received an immediate six-month jail term and an order to pay £300 compensation.

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RCN national officer for health and safety Kim Sunley said offenders should 'feel the full force of the law' and prosecutions could deter others.

'We’ve heard deplorable examples of nurses being heckled in the streets. Some have been assaulted and accused of spreading disease,’ she said.

Nurses urged to report all incidents of violence against them

'Employers must do all they can to protect nursing staff, including reviewing lone worker risk assessments in light of the pandemic.'

Ms Sunley urged nurses to report incidents of violence to improve understanding of how nursing staff are being affected.

A CPS spokesperson said: ‘Nurses and other medical staff are providing a vital public service as society comes together to tackle coronavirus.

‘The CPS will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who threatens or assaults them as they go about their vital duties.’

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