It beggars belief to hear that more than 30 members of NUH staff are the target of verbal and physical abuse every month.
Hearing the stories of the aggression that our dedicated staff have faced is disturbing; from the nurse who got kicked in the head during a fracas on a ward to the receptionist who regularly deals with a torrent of abuse over the phone.
And that’s why I give my full backing to the Trust’s new Not a Target campaign.
For someone who is simply doing their job, often in very testing conditions, to be faced with violence and aggression of any kind is unacceptable and our staff and the public need to know this.
Sadly, there is often an acceptance that this is ‘just part of the job’. We know that the figures are likely to be much higher in reality as many people don’t report cases, feeling that it’s just something they need to put up with.
Well, I do not believe it is part of the job. The Trust’s new campaign makes it clear that this is absolutely not the case, and that all staff will be supported when such incidents occur.
Strong sanctions can and will be taken against those that commit these acts and staff do have the power to withhold treatment in extreme cases.
Of course we recognise that some incidents of aggression are down to clinical reasons, for example dementia or the side-effects of medication, and we will continue to be mindful of this reality. What this campaign is about is targeting those who feel it is acceptable to take their frustrations out on our staff by becoming abusive, violent and aggressive.
We have introduced a new Violence and Aggression workstream as part of our Staff Experience Group which will be looking in detail at what can be done over the coming months to help better support and protect staff, and I will be working hard to ensure that our Board continues to give this issue the prominence it deserves. Our new people Committee, which will be a sub-committee of the Board, will closely monitor progress, and meets for the first time in January.
As the campaign so rightly says, we are all human beings and need to treat each other with the compassion we deserve. No-one deserves to be a target whilst simply going about their job and trying to help and care for others.