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29 October 2014
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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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Category: News; BBC One
Date: 26.02.2007
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