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NHS assaults at their worst in the South West

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 16, 2013

By Tristan Cork

NHS assaults at their worst in the South West

NHS staff in the South West are among the worst affected by assaults from patients or staff

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Hospital staff in the West Country are among the most likely in Britain to be assaulted – either by patients or visitors – while on the regions' wards, new statistics have revealed.

NHS figures listing the likelihood of staff being assaulted in hospitals and health care trusts showed seven of the top 20 worst places for violence were in the West.

Statistically, the third-worst hospital in the country - when not including mental health or ambulance trusts - was the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath which, even though only 21 assaults were reported in the past year, that represented 61 per 1,000 staff, the measure that is used nationally.

Wye Valley NHS Trust in Herefordshire was fifth worst, with 45 assaults per 1,000 staff, and Weston-super-Mare's health service was tenth, with 39 per 1,000. Other West hospitals and health trusts to make the top 20 were Northern Devon, where 170 assaults were reported in the past year, at a rate of almost one every other day, and Yeovil District Hospital, where an assault on staff was reported every five days.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust came in at and Taunton & Somerset Foundation Trust were also 19th on the list, with four incidents so serious that sanctions were taken.

At the other end of the scale, out of the 161 hospitals on the list, the Great Western in Swindon reported only 38 assaults, eight for every 1,000 staff who work there.

Across the country and in all health trusts, the number of criminal sanctions following reported assaults has risen by 201, from 1,257 to 1,458 – a rise of 15.9 per cent. Overall, there was a rise of 5.8 per cent in total reported assaults from 59,744 in 2011/12 to 63,199 in 2012/13.

Richard Hampton, Head of Local Support and Development Services at NHS Protect, said today:

“NHS staff should expect to be able to provide care in a safe environment, free from violence and physical assault. NHS Protect urges employers to take firm action in all cases of assault against NHS staff.

"We urge all NHS staff to report assault and acts of violence against them. Employers must do all they can to support staff in preventing incidents and pursuing offenders”.

The revelation comes as armed police rushed to the A&E department at a Wiltshire hospital in the early hours of yesterday morning, to reports a gunman had fired.

They found a window at Salisbury district hospital had been damaged by a weapon, possibly an air rifle, although no one was injured.

The area was searched but no culprit was found.

A spokesman for the hospital said: "No staff or patients were in danger."

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