UHS Reports High Number of Assaults on Staff


Southampton General Hospital has reported over 1,300 incidents of assaults towards staff from patients in the last four years.

Following from an FOI by The Daily Echo, 1,304 incidents were recorded with 115 of those resulting in police assistance. The highest number of assaults were between 2016 and 2019 (359) with numbers being 311 and 290 in the following years. But recordings have increased again between 2019 and 2020, with 344 reported incidents.

However, the report has been met with distaste from both Southampton MPs and the Royal College of Nursing, who claim that the real number of incidents is ‘much higher’.

Theresa Curry, RCN Senior Officer South Hampshire, has said:

“No one goes to work expecting to be abused. It is never acceptable and these figures are really sad to see – although these are just the reported figures, the real figures are probably even higher. This isn’t a Southampton problem, this is an issue across the country. We know that as a patient or family/friend of a patient it can be really scary to go to hospital. It’s a time of heightened emotions for everyone but lashing out at staff will not solve anything. Shouting at a nurse will not get you seen any quicker. All of the staff in a hospital are there to help. From the receptionists to doctors, nurses, porters – everyone is doing their bit to help the people in their care.”

MP for Southampton Test, Alan Whitehead, has said that the numbers were ‘very worrying’ and that they ‘have been too high for a while’. Mr. Whitehead has also called for more police aide in hospitals:

I’ve been working with the hospital and together we have been pushing the Police and Crime Commissioner for an increased police presence stationed at the hospital and in particular A&E where many of these assaults take place.

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, said that the abuse staff face is ‘appalling’. He continues:

Any form of abuse or violence towards healthcare staff is completely unacceptable. No one should have to face abuse or threats whilst doing their job, let alone the people who work tirelessly to keep us safe.

David French, interim CEO of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, has said:

As our staff at the frontline deliver care through the most challenging phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, their protection and welfare must be our priority. Behind every one of those incidents is a staff member who has experienced some form of abuse when they are carrying out their duty to care for others – and that can’t continue. University Hospital Southampton has a zero tolerance approach to any form of abuse or discrimination against a member of our staff and whilst we have already adopted a number of initiatives to reinforce that robust stance, we know we must do more. Along with our ‘No excuse for abuse’ campaign, we have established a staff group to lead and drive initiatives to protect staff and raise awareness that this behaviour will not be tolerated at UHS. Staff can expect the full support of the organisation in pursuing convictions, and support to deal with the personal impact of these incidents. To that end, we have begun working in partnership with Hampshire Constabulary through Operation Cavell, a campaign to strengthen the response when assaults occur. UHS is clear that our staff being abused or assaulted is not an occupational hazard, it is a criminal offence. Our staff must be able to come to work feeling safe and protected so they can provide the very best care for those in our community who need it most.

The hospital has since begun a campaign aiming to tackle the issue of assault in hospitals, and say they have a zero-tolerance of this kind of behaviour.


Wessex Scene Editor 21/22. Living vicariously through other people.

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