Skip to main content

Abuse of staff at ‘dangerous level’, say NHS bosses

Published on: 22 Mar 2022

Healthcare leaders have written an open message to NHS staff, drawing attention to “the dangerous level” of abuse many are confronted with, “simply for going to work”.

In the message, more than 40 NHS leaders in London said that every year “tens of thousands” of NHS staff are “confronted with violence and aggression from patients”. 

“Now, the abuse is at a dangerous level, with many of our once hailed heroes fearing for their safety,” they said.

“We, leaders of the NHS in London, are speaking with one voice to say that aggression and violence towards our staff will not be tolerated.”

Signatories include Andrew Ridley, the NHS England London interm regional director, integrated care system leaders, leaders from general practice and community pharmacy, and many trust bosses from the capital, including Central and North West London FT chief executive and national director for mental health Claire Murdoch.

The message thanked NHS staff for continuing to care for people and encouraged the reporting of “all forms of verbal and physical abuse from patients, their families and friends so that we may take action”.

They also sent a message to patients and their families: “We will strive to do our best for you and your loved ones. People who are most unwell do need to be seen most urgently, but all our patients are important to us and will receive the care needed. While we are thankful for the support shown by so many, to those who show violence and aggression let it be known: abusing our staff is never ok.”

The first NHS violence reduction strategy was launched in 2018 and aimed to protect the NHS workforce from violence and aggression from patients, their families and the public. 

However, in the intervening years this figure has remained high, with 14 per cent of staff in the 2020 Staff Survey reporting they had experienced violence at work from the public. In ambulance trusts, this figure was as high as 33 per cent.