2011-12 figures released for physical assaults against NHS staff

News Article

30 November 2012

NHS Protect collects and collates figures for physical assaults against NHS staff from NHS bodies across England on an annual basis. NHS Protect today released the 2011-12 figures for physical assaults against NHS staff. 425 health bodies submitted figures this year, employing well over a million staff and contractors.

These figures show assaults on NHS staff that do and do not involve medical factors. This provides an indication of the number of assaults that could realistically result in a criminal sanction, since in cases involving medical factors the assailant may not be considered legally culpable for their actions and a successful criminal sanction against them may be unlikely.

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

"There is never any room for complacency when it comes to violence in the NHS. NHS Protect will continue to work closely with its partners to identify why assaults happen, provide practical tools to address threats and promote the prosecution of offenders wherever appropriate".

NHS Protect is working in partnership with an expert group to develop new guidance and research for health bodies on dealing with the issue of assaults against NHS staff involving medical factors, which the latest figures show have risen in the same period 16.3% (from 39,770 in 2010/11 to 46,265 in 2011/12). The new guidance on The Prevention and Management of Challenging Behaviour (which includes but is not limited to violence against staff) will be circulated shortly to all NHS employers. It suggests that health bodies review existing care models and delivery of care, and identifies a need to change and challenge existing cultures.

Mr Hampton comments: "We will be examining why we have seen this rise in assaults involving medical factors. It is important that good practice continues to be shared, to even out differences between trusts and focus on best practice in this area. Injured members of staff rightly expect to receive the best possible protection against such incidents."

Overall, there was a slight rise of 3.3% in total reported assaults on NHS staff from 57,830 in 2010/11 to 59,744 in 2011/12.

Mr Hampton stresses: "Staff committed to providing our NHS should never be expected to suffer an assault at work and it will not be tolerated. NHS Protect urges employers to take firm action in all cases of assault against NHS staff."

Mr Hampton urges health bodies to:

  • take advantage of the joint working agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service and use existing guidance to pursue local arrangements building on this national agreement - to ensure criminal assaults are identified and do not go unpunished.
  • ensure staff are trained to use available powers to respond decisively to low-level nuisance behaviour before it escalates into violence against staff (powers under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (CJIA)).
  • seek advice from the enhanced network of NHS Protect’s Area Security Management Specialists (ASMSs). They give guidance to Local Security Management Specialists (LSMSs) and assist in assessing risks of violence, addressing these through prevention work and pursuing legal action when assaults do occur.


For more information contact Nadine Agbedetse or James Robertson at the NHS Protect press office on 020 7895 4523/4524. Out of hours mobile 07717 851 926.

Further general information on NHS Protect is at www.nhsprotect.nhs.uk

The 2011-12 physical assault figures are available at: http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/3645.aspx


Notes to Editors

1. NHS Protect incorporates some functions of the former NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS).

2. NHS Protect provides policy and operational guidance relating to 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.

3. In 2010/11, there were 57,830 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England.

4. NHS Protect has a national syllabus for conflict resolution training aimed at all frontline NHS staff. It gives staff the skills to recognise and defuse potentially violent situations.

5. Local Security Management Specialists (LSMSs) are in place in health bodies around England to investigate security breaches, along with the police, and implement new systems to better protect NHS staff and property. NHS Protect advises that all incidents of violence against staff are reported to the LSMS as well as the police. LSMSs receive professional training in areas such as witness interviewing and a background in law, and are supported nationally by NHS Protect.