Hospital campaign cuts toll of abuse

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PHYSICAL and verbal assaults on frontline emergency hospital staff in South Yorkshire have fallen, The Star can reveal.

The number of attacks, verbal and physical, reported by doctors, nurses and other A&E staff at hospitals in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster has dropped over the past three years.

The Northern General Hospital in Sheffield saw the biggest drop in incidents, according to the figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

In 2008 there were 13 cases of assault reported - resulting in one staff member needing medical treatment - and 236 incidents of verbal abuse and threatening behaviour.

The following year there were another 13 assaults registered, with two workers needing treatment, as well as 181 cases of verbal abuse.

But in 2010 just two assaults were reported, with no-one needing treatment.

There were only 47 incidents of verbal abuse or threatening behaviour.

Figures for Rotherham District General Hospital show that between April and December 2009 there were 53 assaults which resulted in no obvious harm and 16 which caused non-permanent harm.

Two incidents inflicted semi-permanent harm but none caused permanent harm.

In 2010 there were 76 assaults resulting in no obvious harm and 12 causing non-permanent harm.

In the first three months of this year there were 21 assaults with no obvious harm and one resulting in non-permanent harm.

Figures also reveal the level of verbal abuse staff endure. In the nine months of 2009 there were 46 incidents of verbal abuse or disruption and one report of racial abuse, followed by 47 incidents of verbal abuse or disruption in 2010 and one incident of racial abuse.

From January to March this year there were a further nine incidents of disruption and verbal abuse reported.

At Barnsley District General Hospital, from March 2008 to February 2009 there were 11 incidents of physical or verbal attacks reported.

Fewer than five needed medical treatment, although the trust was unable to provide an exact number.

There were nine incidents the following year and a further nine from March 2010 to February this year.

Hilary Chapman, chief operating officer/chief nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “Violence and aggression towards staff is an issue that we take very seriously and many initiatives and policies have been put in place to prevent staff from being exposed to aggressive, violent or inappropriate behaviour.

“The majority of our frontline staff have also received training in how to deal with aggressive or abusive patients and visitors as part of our zero tolerance approach.”

A Barnsley Hospital spokeswoman added: “We take a zero tolerance approach to violence against our staff and have a range of ways to help tackle it.”

A Rotherham Hospital spokeswoman said: “We have a policy outlining unacceptable behaviour towards staff, patients and visitors and we operate a zero tolerance approach.”

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