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Government announces clampdown as violence against NHS staff becomes a “daily reality”

NHS Staff could even see the introduction of ‘Body Cams’ as the Government announced a clampdown on violence.

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The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced a clampdown on violence against healthcare staff.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, will reveal details of the first ever NHS violence reduction strategy to protect nursing staff from violence and aggression at work and ensure offenders are punished appropriately.

Mr. Hancock is set to tell staff at the Royal College of Nursing that he backs a “zero tolerance” approach to abuse against them and outline how the NHS will work with police and prosecutors to make sure victims are supported to give evidence and achieve swift prosecutions.

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He’ll also pledge to provide better training for staff to deal with violent situations, including those involving patients who have dementia or mental health problems.

Violence is unacceptable.

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,” said Hancock.

“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.”

Official figures show that over 15% of NHS staff have experienced physical violence from patients, or their families, during the past year.

Paramedics alongside mental health workers are some of the first to be provided with body cameras in order to reduce the violence.

Physical violence is a daily reality.

The RCN has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the threat of violence nursing staff face, securing key changes to new legislation so that all those who provide NHS-funded care in England and Wales are covered by a law which sets out tougher sentences for those who assault nursing staff.

Kim Sunley, RCN National Officer, said: “Nursing staff understand their roles aren’t risk-free but, to many, it still seems as if the threat of physical violence is a daily reality.  

“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 health care 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. There’s always more we can do to support them.”

Sara Gorton, Head of Health for Unison, 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.”

Workforce

Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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Workforce

NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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