Attacks on NHS Borders staff predicted to fall

ALTHOUGH the number of victims is expected to drop slightly on last year’s figure and is considerably lower than three years ago, John Lamont MSP said the number of NHS staff attacked in the region is still simply unacceptable.

Statistics released through a Freedom of Information request have shown that hundreds of assaults were carried out on NHS staff in the Borders this year.

The estimate for staff assaults in the Borders region is expected to total 409 cases, similar to the 407 cases in 2011/12 but well down on the 1,956 reported in 2009/10 and 1,114 cases in 2010/11.

Local MSP John Lamont has welcomed the drop in assaults, but stated that there are still too many occurring each year.

He commented: “Every year our NHS staff do a fantastic job in looking after us and ensuring that we receive the best standards of care possible. They deserve to carry out their work in the safest possible environment, but these statistics show that for many this is simply not the case.

“To have over 400 attacks take place against the doctors, nurses and other health staff that work in the Borders is simply not acceptable.

“Those who are guilty of these assaults are attacking the very people trying to make them better, and we need to send a strong message to them that their behaviour will not be tolerated.

“While I am glad that these figures are well down on where they were just a few years previously, they are still too high. Our hardworking staff in the NHS already work in challenging conditions without the threat of being physically attacked by patients.

“I would urge the Scottish Government to do everything they can to reduce these assaults. We not only need to ensure that incidents of patient violence are reduced, but also that those who are caught are severely punished.”

As of December 31 last year, there had been 307 attacks on NHS staff in the region and like John Lamont, NHS Border’s chief executive, Calum Campbell said staff should be able to go to work without fear of coming under threat.

He commented: “Our staff are extremely valuable and any attack on them is totally unacceptable.

Staff should be completely safe in their jobs and they should not receive any sort of abuse at work.

“Violence against our staff is taken very seriously and we will continue to do all we can to prevent it.

“We encourage all staff to report all incidents, of any nature, be they verbal or physical, so that we can investigate and learn from them and we have seen a rise in incident reporting since the introduction of the Datix reporting system.”

The projected result of 409 reported cases for NHS Borders is one of the lowest in Scotland although considerably higher than neighbouring Dumfries & Galloway (197).