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Accident And Emergency Staff Assaults

Volume 407: debated on Monday 23 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS staff have been assaulted in hospital casualty departments in each of the last five years; how many of these assaults have been alcohol related; and how many cases have resulted in prosecutions (a) in England and (b) in the City of Durham. [119092]

The figures of reported violent or abusive incidents involving staff in National Health Service trust and health authorities, in England for 2000–01 were 1101,000 and for 2001–02 were 112,000. These are the only national figures collected by the Department using a common definition of violence for reporting purposes.Information on the level of assaults by type of incident and individual staff groups is not collected centrally, but may be held at a local level of NHS employers.Data on prosecution brought against individuals who assault NHS staff is not currently collected by NHS employing organisations. From 1 April 2003, the new Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (CFSMS) special health authority took over lead responsibility for tackling violence against NHS staff. The programme of work they will be taking forward includes introducing a strengthened national reporting system to record incident of violence and aggression against staff using a common definition with the ability to track cases through to conclusion. This is intended to give the NHS hard and accurate information around incidents and outcomes, particularly where a criminal or civil sanction is pursed to deal with offenders.A snapshot survey undertaken in March 2003 found that 51 prosecutions had been brought directly by NHS trusts since updated guidance was issued to NHS employing organisations in June 2002. The guidance states that NHS trusts should consider with their lawyers the need, where appropriate, to support a prosecution against an individual in cases where the Crown Prosecution Service decides not to do so.

1The 20001–01 and 2001–02 totals have been estimated to include organisations which did not provide figures and the results are based on surveys by the Department of Health and the National Audit Office.