Violence against nurses could see body cameras rolled out across the NHS

In a speech today Matt Hancock will lay out the health service’s first violence reduction strategy amid an escalation of attacks against hard working frontline staff.

Figures show assaults against emergency workers have trebled in five years with at least 15 per cent of health workers experiencing violence from patients, relatives or the public in the last year.

NHS officials are planning to rollout the bodycams across the board by 2020-21 if the current trials are successful.

Mr Hancock will tell staff at the Royal College of Nursing he backs a “zero tolerance” approach to abuse against them.

The plans include ensuring offenders are prosecuted quickly with a new database to record abuse against workers and assess who is at highest risk.

Staff will be given improved training to deal with violent situations – as well as more support to cope with patients suffering dementia or other mental health conditions.

Victims of violence will be offered assistance from specialist workers if they need it.

He said: “NHS staff dedicate their lives to protecting and caring for us in our times of greatest need and for any one of them to be subject to aggression or violence is completely unacceptable.

“I have made it my personal mission to ensure NHS staff feel safe and secure at work and the new violence reduction strategy will be a key strand of that.

“We will not shy away from the issue – we want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system.”

The new plans follow the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill recently brought into law.

The powers will see the maximum prison sentence for assaulting an emergency worker double from six months to a year.

The Royal College of Nursing’s Kim Sunley said threat of physical violence against healthcare workers and nurses was “a daily reality”.

She said: “These measures are another way to change this for good by increasing the accountability of employers for the safety of their staff and ensuring those who wilfully assault healthcare workers feel the full force of the law.

“Victims of assault at work have their lives turned upside down and it affects their wellbeing, their families and their livelihood and there’s always more we can do to support them.”

UNISON spokeswoman Sara Gorton added: “No-one should be abused, threatened or attacked at work – especially when all they’re trying to do is help people.

“It is encouraging that the government has listened to unions and agreed to review measures in place to ensure staff safety.

“This includes a more joined up approach between the NHS, police and CPS. Anyone who threatens or abuses NHS staff should be prosecuted under to the new law protecting health care workers.”

Previous Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the body cam trial for 465 ambulances and their paramedics in the summer to help protect them against assaults and bring attackers to justice.

Ambulance staff reported being bitten, sexually assaulted and even stabbed.

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