2008-9 figures released on reported assaults against NHS staff in England

News Article

16 November 2009

NHS Security Management Service

Press release 

Immediate release 16th November 2009

2008-9 figures released on reported assaults against NHS staff in England
NHS staff urged to keep speaking out

The annual reported assault figures against NHS staff in England are released today by the NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS).

A total of 54,758 physical assaults were reported during 2008-9 on NHS staff working in all care sectors. This represents a decrease of 1,235 reported assaults compared with the figure for 2007-8.

There were 941 criminal sanctions applied in 2008-9 following cases of physical assault.

The table below shows reported physical assaults by care sector.

Care sector

Assaults 2008-09





Mental Health and Learning Disability


Primary Care Trusts


Special & Strategic Health Authorities




Violence against NHS staff is unacceptable. NHS SMS works in partnership with Local Security Management Specialists (LSMSs) to encourage all NHS staff to report physical assaults and support action against offenders. SMS is not complacent about the reduction in reported assaults, believing that there are still incidents which go unreported.

Managing Director of the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service, Dermid McCausland, said:

"Many will welcome the reduction in reported assaults this year. But the NHS is not complacent. We have more work to do to let all NHS staff know they should not accept violence as part of their job. We continue to maintain our efforts to protect staff. November is Security Awareness Month across the NHS in England and I would encourage staff to work with their Local Security Management Specialist to raise any concerns they may have about the safety of their working environment”.

Head of the NHS SMS, Richard Hampton, said: "NHS staff must be able to deliver high quality clinical care in a safe and secure environment. We are supporting staff in this aim through a network of professionally trained Local Security Management Specialists. New legislation is also being introduced to tackle low level nuisance and disturbance behaviour, preventing situations escalating into something more serious. All Trusts have a responsibility to ensure that risks to their staff are minimised through guidance, support and training – and we help them do this”.


For more information contact Daryl Barrett or James Robertson at the NHS Security Management Service press office on 020 7895 4523/4524. Out of hours mobile 07717 851 926
Further information on NHS CFS can be found at www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/security
Notes to editors

1. All NHS health trusts in England were asked to submit annual figures for the number of reported physical assaults against NHS staff during the financial year 2008-09. The NHS SMS received a 100% response.

2. November is Security Awareness Month throughout the NHS in England. Visit the security area of http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/ for more information including an interactive presentation by Dermid McCausland, the NHS SMS Managing Director.

3. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 created a new criminal offence of causing a nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises and a power for authorised NHS staff to remove a person suspected of committing this offence. The legislation will be commenced at the end of November 2009.

4. The Department of Health is subsidising the roll out of 30,000 subscriptions to lone worker alarm services for NHS staff. Roll out started in May 2009. The system is designed for staff who work in isolation from colleagues and may need the ability to call for assistance when their personal security is threatened. If a lone worker indicates they need help then a trained individual is able to listen to events, call for assistance if necessary and record events in a way that is legally admissible making it easier for workers to bring cases to prosecution where appropriate.

5. The NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS) – a division of the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) - was set up in 2003 to lead on the management of security within the NHS in England. It strives to ensure permanent improvements are made to provide the best protection for NHS staff and property.

6. In April 2004, the NHS SMS developed a national syllabus for conflict resolution training designed for frontline NHS staff. This training gives staff the skills to recognise and defuse potentially violent situations. More than 428,000 staff have been trained so far.

7. Local Security Management Specialists (LSMSs) are in place in 90% of health bodies around England to investigate security breaches, along with the Police, and implement new systems to better protect NHS staff and property. They receive professional training in areas such as witness interviewing, and are supported nationally by the NHS SMS.