Sunderland hospital chief's plea after troubling rise in abuse against NHS staff, with teams suffering violence, aggression, racist abuse and 'sexual incidents'
A hospital chief has issued a plea to respect NHS staff after his team were among those suffering violence, aggression, racial abuse and ‘sexual incidents’ amid a rise in abuse.
Health teams in the North East are preparing for the very busy winter period, made considerably worse during the pandemic.
But they say the lives of NHS staff are being made even tougher by increasing incidents of abuse.
In 2020, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust – which runs hospitals in the two areas – reported a 10% increase in the total number of incidents faced by staff.
These have involved assaults, verbal or racial abuse, and sexual incidents, which covers innuendos, physical and verbal acts.
Dr Shaz Wahid, executive medical director at the Trust, said hospital, ambulance, GPs and other primary care staff should not be the target of verbal abuse or attacks, especially at a time when they are working harder than ever.
"When our staff face violence and aggression from the people we are here to help it has a serious impact on their wellbeing and mental health,” he said.
"NHS staff have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep services running and offer patients care and they deserve to be treated with respect.
"They dedicate themselves to looking after and protecting others and they should be able to come to work without facing the fear of abuse of any kind.
"We want to make it absolutely clear once again that we will not stand physical, verbal or racist abuse. We encourage our staff to report any incidents and wherever possible, ensure those responsible are prosecuted."
Frontline staff across the North East have been describing a growing volume of verbal abuse being faced at work when they are simply trying to do their job and care for others.
NHS bosses said this is particularly worrying at a time when demand is growing and staff have already worked tirelessly over the past 18 months on Covid19 and the vaccination programme.
The North East Ambulance Service also recently highlighted a rise in attacks on its staff and these type of incidents are having a demoralising impact on the workforce.
Hospitals, GPs and paramedics across the North East and North Cumbria are also managing another surge of pressure on vital services with many of the region’s hospitals seeing record daily numbers for A&E attendance, a huge increase in paediatric cases and ongoing Covid19 patients requiring care.
Staffing and services across the NHS are increasingly stretched after more than a year of managing the pandemic and vaccination roll out.
As well as this NHS teams – across hospitals and GP practices – still face challenges such as reduced space in clinical treatment areas and surgeries because of the need to follow strict infection control measures to ensure patients and staff continue to be safe.
To help cope with these pressures and ensure the people who need care the most can get it the NHS is asking people to:
:: Think GP, NHS 111 online or pharmacy first before calling 111.
:: Only contact 999 or attend an A&E / Emergency Department for serious or life-threatening problems
:: Get your flu vaccinations or covid booster as soon as you can once you are eligible.
:: Understand that you may need to wait longer than usual.
:: If you are visiting any healthcare settings, please remember to continue wearing a face covering, use our handwashing and alcohol gel facilities.
:: Be kind – staff are doing their best to look after you, please be patient.