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NHS: Crimes of Violence

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 4 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent (a) discussions he has had and (b) and representations he has received on withholding non-essential treatment from abusive patients by doctors and nurses. (189491)

The national health service security management service (NHS SMS) meets quarterly with key stakeholders representing NHS managers and staff to discuss work on tackling violence and abuse. When developing the guidance entitled ‘Non Physical Assault Explanatory Notes 2004’, the NHS SMS consulted with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing. This guidance recommends that health bodies develop local procedures for withholding treatment from patients who have been abusive or violent towards NHS staff. No specific representations have been received by the NHS SMS on the topic of withholding non-essential treatment from abusive patients.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many incidents there were of (a) physical, (b) verbal and (c) sexual abuse and assault of nurses, doctors and other hospital staff in each of the last 10 years. (189493)

In April 2003, the National Health Service Security Management Service (NHS SMS) was created and assumed responsibility for tackling violence against NHS staff. Since 2004-05, the NHS SMS has collected data on the number of physical assaults reported against NHS staff in England for the categories shown in the following table. The information is not available in the categories of nurses, doctors and other hospital staff.

The number of physical assaults against NHS staff reported in the period 2004-05 to 2006-07 are in the following table.

Reported assaults by sector

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Ambulance service

1,333

1,104

1,006

Acute/foundation trusts

10,758

11,100

9,685

Primary care

5,192

5,145

3,445

Mental health/learning disability

43,097

41,345

41,569

Other (Special health authority)

5

1

4

Total

60,385

58,695

55,709