Rise in Violence Towards NHS Staff During COVID-19

In England, the death toll for health care workers relating to COVID-19 has now surpassed 300, demonstrating the risks that NHS staff face as part of their job in the current situation.

Not only do doctors and nurses have to contend with higher risk of contracting the virus, reports from the Nursing Times also show that many healthcare staff are facing verbal threats and physical abuse from patients, their families and the public.

The most recent NHS staff survey revealed that 14.5% of staff had experienced physical violence while at work – that’s an average of 200 violent attacks a day. Unfortunately, many hospital workers have simply resigned themselves to violence and aggression being part of their job.

Case Study: A NHS mental health nurse was in a GP surgery when he activated his device. Our ARC controller could hear heavy breathing and shouting and therefore asked the user if they were OK. The user advised that he needed the police as he had been stabbed and the perpetrator was still on scene. The user’s location was confirmed and the Controller immediately used the URN to contact the police. The police and ambulance arrived on scene within 4 minutes.

Alarm raised in the Peoplesafe ARC June 2020

Despite the success of the ‘Clap for our Carers’ initiative that suggests widespread support and respect for UK health workers, there have been reports of racial abuse, staff being spat on and doctors being punched whilst treating COVID-19 patients.

Majority of these attacks are motivated by fear with NHS workers being heckled by stressed and aggravated members of the public. Although it’s understandable that people are scared, health workers have asked the UK public to work with them during this crisis as they do everything in their power to protect people.

Healthcare workers are facing an unprecedented demand for their services. The COVID-19 crisis has put extra strain and stress on the NHS at a time when things were already stretched with 44,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the UK. Many hospitals and health centres are short-staffed as employees contract the virus themselves or need to self-isolate after becoming symptomatic.

Frontline NHS staff have been putting themselves at higher risk of infection to help protect others. As a result, evidence is starting to emerge revealing the mental health toll it is taking on them, including stress, anxiety, PTSD, depression and insomnia.

Violence and abuse directed at NHS workers is nothing new; however, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in violence towards healthcare staff. Providing them with a safety support service, like Peoplesafe’s will create an even more resilient and confident workforce.