OPINION: put them on a black list

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Figures released this week suggest that hospital workers are being physically attacked as they try to care for patients – every single day.

Last year an astonishing 3,400-plus people were assaulted while doing their duty with people in the care of South Yorkshire health trusts. You don’t have to be a mathematician to come up with the average daily figure. Of course there needs to be a level of understanding that some of these incidents are out of character, and perhaps even out of the control of those whose illnesses are not limited to physical injuries. But then there are those who cannot control their aggression owning to booze, say. For me, anyone who attacks a health worker because they’re out of their minds on drink or drugs ought to be ejected from the hospital. They should then have to pay for their treatment, if a hospital is willing to treat them at all. I don’t doubt that someone will tell me this is a stupid idea, and that individuals have a basic human right to be cared for when they need it, and that the NHS should provide said care free of charge at the point of contact. However, I cannot help but feel the basic rights of doctors, nurses and their colleagues should trump those who are a danger to the people who are just trying to do their best to make people better. One thing is for sure, not enough of an example is being made of those guilty of this crime. If more than 3,400 people were recorded as having been attacked, then I reckon the real figure - including volleys of verbal abuse - will allow a conservative estimate to double that number. And yet, just 11 people were charged as a result. That simply isn’t good enough. If that ratio of accountability does not go unchallenged then what we are effectively saying is that we’re all pretty much okay with nurses being battered by their patients. Without addressing the issue we are all contributing towards compounding a culture which I for one find abhorrent. It’s up to us all to look after NHS staff as we’d like them to look after us.