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Take action against those who abuse or attack NHS staff

Last updated: 12:25pm 6 June 2019

We will take vigorous and immediate action against those who abuse or attack the people who work for and make our NHS.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.68

Our verdict

The 2018 NHS staff survey found that:

“14.5% of staff experienced at least one incident of physical violence in the last 12 months from patients/service users, their relatives or other members of the public”

This policy is a promise to act swiftly and vigorously against the perpetrators of such violence and abuse.

On 13 September 2018, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act gained Royal Assent. The Act makes certain offences “aggravated” when perpetrated against emergency workers (amongst whom are counted people employed or engaged for the purpose of providing or supporting the provision of NHS health services), meaning they could carry a stiffer sentence. Although the new law resulted from a private member’s bill proposed by a Labour MP, such bills do not pass without government backing.

In October 2018, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced the first NHS violence reduction strategy, with the aim of better protecting staff and enabling more straightforward prosecution of offenders. The strategy incorporates:

  • collaboration with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to get prosecutions
  • scrutinising violence as part of Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections
  • improved training for staff to deal with violence
  • mental health support for staff who have been victims of violence

The January 2019 NHS Long Term Plan committed to a pilot of body worn cameras for paramedics and promised to “invest up to £2 million a year from 2019/20 in these programmes to reduce violence, bullying and harassment for our staff”.

Collectively, we think the evidence above warrants a status of ‘done’ for this promise. Legislation has been passed and a wide-reaching strategy to reduce violence against staff has been launched. We’ll keep tracking for evidence of the impact of these measures on levels of violence in the NHS, so follow this policy for updates.

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