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Police called 'every day' to violence against NHS staff

media captionShocking footage of attacks and aggression at Welsh hospitals

Police are called to at least one violent incident against NHS staff each day on average, figures have suggested.

Statistics from four health boards showed officers were called 521 times in 2017/18 and 2,719 times since 2013.

One nurse said she struggled to pass a street in Newport where she was attacked by a patient's husband on a home visit.

She spoke out as a bill to double the sentence for assaults on emergency workers was discussed in Parliament.

In total, there were more than 7,900 incidents of physical or verbal assault against Welsh NHS staff in the year to March - suggesting on any given day, 20 workers face abuse.

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Jane Carroll, a senior Royal College of Nursing (RCN) officer, who was attacked while out on a home visit said calling the police was not taken lightly.

"He was circling me and shouting at me and as I opened the door two hands came very hard on my back. I fell over and took the skin off my knees," she said.

"I sat in my car and cried for a little while but realised I couldn't stay there because I felt vulnerable."

media captionPolice 'disruptive but needed' in hospital

"When you go into your shift you don't expect to have to deal with the police," she added.

"It's not appropriate to have that disruption, but to do what you have to do, sometimes you have to call on them."

On Friday, a private members bill launched by Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant was given its second reading in the House of Lords, having passed a major hurdle by getting the backing of the UK government and being passed by the Commons.

If approved by the Lords and brought into law later this year, it would see the maximum prison sentence for a common assault double from six months to one year, if the victim is a firefighter, police officer, prison officer, search and rescue volunteer, or NHS worker.

image captionChris Bryant said attacks on emergency workers were an attack on "all of us"

Ms Carroll said she often has to support RCN members who have experienced violence on the job.

"I think it's a sad a sign of the times that we need a bill from Chris Bryant to address this behaviour," she added.

"We also have to realise the impact this has on the relationship between health workers and the patient. It's not good."

Last week the Welsh Ambulance Service said it was considering giving body cameras to paramedics after a spike in ambulance staff being attacked.

And Home Office data indicates police forces in Wales reported 950 assaults on officers in 2016/17, while latest figures from Wales' three fire services indicate firefighters were attacked almost 145 in the last five years.

Correction 28 September 2018: This story was updated to make clear that that people assisting emergency workers are not covered by the legislation.

Related Topics

  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Chris Bryant
  • NHS

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