Panorama: GBH On The NHS
Violence against NHS staff is costing the taxpayer at least £100m a year, a
BBC One Panorama investigation has revealed.
That money could have paid the salaries of 4,500 nurses or covered the cost of
800,000 paramedic callouts.
In a programme to be aired tonight, Panorama investigates what Zero
Tolerance against violence within the NHS really means.
Last year, an estimated 75,000 NHS workers were victims of physical assaults by
patients - that's one every seven minutes.
Throughout the NHS, staff are encouraged to report any kind of abuse. But
scrutiny of the number of prosecutions for attacks on staff makes for grim
reading - less than 2%.
So, is the balance right between the duty to care for violent and abusive
patients and the rights of staff to be able to carry out that care in a safe
and secure environment?
Panorama's Shelley Jofre went behind the scenes at two of the country's busiest
hospitals, Heartlands in Birmingham and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
Images captured on CCTV, and broadcast for the first time, include: a doctor
being attacked by a 55-year-old woman; an assault on a security guard by a
patient who had previously punched a doctor; a patient who bites another
patient before attempting to assault other patients and staff; a gang fight
that continues inside the hospital's X-ray unit; and a four-hour long incident
that involves staff, security, police and then riot squad officers as they
contain a mentally ill patient.
One nurse tells Panorama how she was left with a permanent disability after an
attack by a patient, and of the decision not to prosecute her case after a two-and-a-half year struggle to get the case to court.
Then there is the extraordinary tale of a man whose life depends on receiving
kidney dialysis treatment but who has made the lives of those who treat him a
nightmare of abuse, threats and violence.
Despite his behaviour, which
necessitates treatment in isolation, the hospital remains committed to caring
for him even at an additional cost of more than £40,000 per year.
Panorama; GBH On The NHS, 8.30-9.00pm, BBC One, Monday 26 February 2007
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