Welsh Government
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Health Minister signs agreement with police to prosecute violent patients

Health Minister Edwina Hart has signed an agreement with the police which allows them to work more closely with the NHS in Wales in the investigation of allegations of violence towards NHS staff.

This Memorandum of Understanding follows the signing of an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service in March 2007, to ensure the effective prosecution of the perpetrators of violent attacks.

Mrs Hart is confident that the Memorandum will promote the prosecution of violent offenders, which will help act as a deterrent to others. It includes:

  • new protocols on the investigation of incidents
  • the referral of cases to the police
  • evidence gathering and the provision of statements
  • post incident reviews, and
  • support for victims when their case has progressed to court.

Also, as a result of the forthcoming re-organisation of the NHS in Wales, the new Health Organisations will each be required to appoint named individuals at both Executive Director and non-officer levels who will have a specific focus to deal with the problem of violence within their own organisations, with Violence & Aggression reports being regularly reported at Board meetings.

Latest figures show that there were 7,343 incidents of violence and aggression in the NHS in Wales in 2007/08.

Signing the agreement on a visit to the Accident and Emergency Department at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, Mrs Hart said:

“I am determined to stamp out violence and aggression against NHS staff. It is unacceptable that NHS staff face wilful violence and aggression in going about their day-to-day duties caring for patients.

“Some incidents may take the form of verbal abuse while others may lead to physical assaults. However, neither are acceptable and cause unnecessary stress to staff who are trying to do their job. Such behaviour by a minority of patients and visitors not only harm staff but other patients and visitors.”

Barbara Wilding, Chief Constable of South Wales Police, signing the Memorandum on behalf of the four Welsh forces, added:

“Tackling all forms of violent crime is a priority for South Wales Police. We will not tolerate doctors, nurses or any other health care professionals being subject to verbal abuse and violence while they are simply doing their job in treating patients.

“I hope this agreement reassures NHS staff that we are here to support them and that all incidents will be dealt with appropriately."

Tina Donnelly, Director of the Royal College of Nursing Wales, said:

“We welcome the new agreement between the police and the NHS in Wales to prosecute perpetrators of violent acts against NHS staff. Nurses and other healthcare staff need to know that the police, government and their employers are aware of violent incidents and support efforts to prevent and mitigate violence and must be proactive in taking steps to make the workplace safe.

“A strong commitment is imperative to reducing violent and aggressive behaviour and eliminating barriers to reporting incidents of violence. It is important to establish a culture of acceptance for reporting violent incidents as this is a positive step toward creating a safer work environment. Procedures for reporting violent incidents should be clear and staff should have access to care and counselling following an incident, if needed.”

Dave Galligan of UNISON said:

“This will be seen as a significant step forward in helping to prevent incidents of violence and aggression towards staff.  It will allow staff to be more confident that the perpetrators will have to answer for their actions in the future. All NHS personnel will welcome the much more positive approach as a consequence of the Minister’s commitment to their safety at work.”

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