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Stronger protection implemented to reduce violence against NHS staff

NHS employment law

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has announced the first NHS violence reduction strategy.

This new strategy is aiming to protect NHS staff against deliberate violence and aggression from patients, patients families and the public, as well as to ensure that offenders are held accountable quickly.

The strategy lays out plans to ensure the security and safety of NHS staff, which includes that any staff who experience violence or aggression is to work with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to help get prosecutions in the quickest and most effective way.

It states that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) should now include violence as part of their inspection regime to identify any support needs. There will be improved training issued to staff to allow them to deal with any violence, including circumstances involving patients with dementia or mental illness. NHS staff will also receive mental health support if they fall victim to violence or aggression.

This strategy is announced following the most recent NHS survey which showed that more than 15% of NHS employees had experienced violence from patients, their families or the public within the last 12 months. This is the highest figure for five years.

To allow the government to understand this rise in violence towards NHS staff and take action to prevent it, easier reporting procedures will also be introduced under the new strategy and every incident will be thoroughly investigated.

The strategy coincides with the recent Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which sets the maximum prison sentence for assaulting an emergency worker double from six months to a year.

Matt Hancock announced the strategy in a speech stating that:

"NHS staff dedicate their lives to protecting and caring for us in our times of greatest need and for any one of them to be subject to aggression or violence is completely unacceptable."

"I have made it my personal mission to ensure NHS staff feel safe and secure at work and the new strategy created together with the Social Partnership Forum, will take a zero-tolerance approach to attacks and assaults against our staff."

"I want my department to work with the NHS, police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Social Partnership Forum and the RCN to ensure this strategy succeeds so the new law works for you. So you can easily report any incident, so every incident is taken seriously and investigated fully, and so the ‒ often difficult ‒ process of giving evidence doesn’t create more work for you."

Hancock went on to discuss the launch of the public platform #TalkHealthCare, where the public can share their opinion and ideas. He stated many great ideas had been implemented from the platform and encouraged everyone to share their views on how to improve the NHS working environment.

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