NHS Forth Valley staff attacked by patients almost 100 times in 2019

Staff have been attacked by patients at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and other facilities. Picture: Michael Gillen
Staff have been attacked by patients at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and other facilities. Picture: Michael Gillen

Frontline health service staff in Forth Valley have been attacked almost 100 times by patients this year.

The extent of the problem was laid bare following a Freedom of Information request (FOI) made by The Falkirk Herald.

In just ten months, NHS Forth Valley (FV) employees were subjected to 98 assaults between January 1 and October 31.

Working out at, on average, more than six attacks being reported each week, the figure has dropped slightly in comparison to recent years when the number of such incidents has soared.

The FOI request revealed 87 attacks on NHS FV workers were reported between January 1 and October 31 in 2016; 108 assaults during the same period the following year; and 145 within that timeframe in 2018. These figures include attacks by patients whose symptoms of violence or aggression may be due to a medical condition or illness.

Worringly, there is concern those numbers could be even higher. An insider told The Falkirk Herald incidents pass without being flagged up because of the NHS’ stretched workforce demanding schedules.

They said: “Unfortunately attacks continue to be unreported due to time issues faced by overworked staff.

“Patients attending hospital under the influence of substances can also be violent and aggressive towards staff.

“There is also verbal abuse directed at staff regularly. This also is unacceptable and continued verbal abuse from individuals can have a detrimental psychological impact on NHS staff who are already overworked and under pressure.”

NHS FV officials say work has been undertaken to “raise awareness” of the issue and encourage staff to report instances of violence and aggression to allow for investigations to be carried out.

A spokeswoman said: “Attacks on staff are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“We recognise that in some cases violence and aggression may be due to medical conditions or illness but we take the safety of our staff very seriously and provide training and support on how to handle potentially violent situations which arise with patients, staff or visitors. Serco security officers at Forth Valley Royal Hospital are available 24 hours a day, together with CCTV monitoring, to assist local healthcare staff.”