Rise in assaults on staff at West Suffolk Hospital

West Suffolk Hospital
West Suffolk Hospital

Eighty three physical assaults on staff at West Suffolk Hospital were reported last year, according to a safeguarding body.

Of those assaults, 78 involved medical factors at the hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, in 2013/14 and no criminal sanctions were declared.

This compares with a total of 49 assaults on staff at the hospital - all involving medical factors - in 2012/13 with two criminal sanctions.

The figures were released by NHS Protect, which noted an 8.7 per cent rise in total reported assaults nationally from 63,199 in 2012/13 to 68,683 in 2013/14.

Jan Bloomfield, director of workforce at West Suffolk, said the vast majority of assualts involve patients who are not aware or have no control of their actions.

This can be due to a general anaesthetic or if the patient has dementia or is cognitively impaired. She added: “We take the support of our staff extremely seriously and adopt a zero tolerance policy on aggression against them.”

Meanwhile, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health, substance misuse and learning disability services, recorded 1,220 assaults on staff in 2013/14 with 944 involving medical factors. There were eight criminal sanctions.

This compares with 1,238 with 1,040 involving medical factors and 49 criminal sanctions in 2012/13.

Michele Allott, deputy director of nursing, said: “We actively encourage staff to report all incidents to continually improve safety, and most of the 1,220 assaults reported resulted in no harm to staff.”

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust reported 188 assaults, 53 involving medical factors and 33 sanctions declared in 2013/14.

This compares in 2012/13 with a total of 137 reported, 27 involving medical factors and 46 declared sanctions.

Chief executive Anthony Marsh said they take a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to attacks and collaborate with police to ensure necessary action is taken.