By Clare Semke – Health reporter
Almost a quarter of paramedics say they have come under attack from patients or relatives in the past year. The shocking statistics also reveal that it’s not just the ambulance service that get abused on a daily basis. A survey of NHS staff in our area reveals they are more likely to be assaulted compared with the rest of the country.
Of the 1,638 employees who responded to the survey by the Healthcare Commission, 217 – 19 per cent – said they were attacked last year compared with 13 per cent nationwide. And a third of NHS workers in Portsmouth have suffered illness brought on by work-related stress. Healthcare Commission chief Anna Walker said: ‘We must all adopt a zero tolerance policy to such behaviour. NHS staff deserve our respect and praise for what is often life-saving work, not violence and abuse.’
Last month paramedic Tom Hope was kicked, punched and beaten by up to 12 yobs in Gosport. The 37-year-old was attacked in Bemister’s Lane, off Gosport High Street, after being called to treat a youth who was coughing up blood. And seven weeks ago a crazed patient stabbed two security guards with scalpels at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.
Health trusts in our area already offer training in violence and aggression. PHT also operates a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. But trade unions says figures are still ‘worryingly high’.
Today, a leading doctor called on violent and abusive patients to be refused NHS treatment. Paulsgrove GP and local British Medical Association spokesman, Dr Steve McKenning, said medics should invoke rules allowing them to refuse to treat patients if they feel they are in danger. Dr McKenning called police after a male patient threatened staff at his Allaway Avenue surgery. He has also been thumped by another male patient who threatened a nurse. ‘You learn quickly how to spot the potential danger signs and try and diffuse the situation,’ he said.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Portsmouth Primary Care Trust, South Central Ambulance and Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust all took part in the voluntary survey. PCTs in Fareham and Gosport and East Hampshire did not.