Local health and care organisations are joining together to say ‘It’s not OK’ to be violent, aggressive or abusive towards their staff, in a new campaign.
The ‘It’s not OK’ campaign aims to highlight the impact of unacceptable behaviour which some healthcare staff experience while at work, by sharing their stories and urging the public to respect healthcare staff and remember that they’re people too.
Whilst the majority of patients and visitors to healthcare settings are respectful and appreciative, there has been a worrying rise in abusive behaviour during the pandemic.
Healthcare staff know and appreciate that there will be occasions where patients, due to the nature of their condition or through cognitive impairment, may become confused or stressed in unfamiliar environments, which can lead to challenging behaviour. Staff are offered de-escalation training to help deal with these kinds of instances in an appropriate manner.
However, there are many violent, aggressive and abusive incidents which do not involve such patients and can have a lasting impact on NHS staff who deserve to be able to feel safe when they come to work.
Ros Green, a Senior Urgent Care Practitioner for Sirona, has experienced verbal abuse from members of the public at Bristol’s Urgent Treatment Centre:
“I’m at work to look after people, I’m not at work for people to take their aggression out on me. It’s just a horrible experience that leaves you feeling in a really horrible situation and then you have to pick yourself up and move on to see the next person and still have a smile on your face and so that’s just really difficult sometimes.”
Zoe, a Community Nurse for Sirona, says NHS staff are people too and she wants people to treat them with the same respect that someone would treat their own family:
“I’ve been punched, kicked, I’ve been spat at, I’ve been sworn at, I’ve been called incompetent, I’ve been called a little girl and it doesn’t make you feel good. It makes you feel undervalued, it’s embarrassing, it’s demoralising and I think it’s important to raise awareness that it’s not ok and it shouldn’t be happening.”
There are a number of measures in place to support healthcare staff when experiencing violent or aggressive behaviour, ranging from warning letters and acceptable behaviour contracts through to patients being excluded from the premises and, in some circumstances, involving the police.
NHS staff should be able to carry out their work free from the threat of aggressive or abusive behaviour. Please respect our staff and remember that they are people to.