Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) supports new national plans, which will be set out by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock later today, to adopt a zero tolerance approach to violence against NHS staff.

In 2017 NUH launched the ‘Not a Target’ campaign. The campaign highlights the impact that verbal and physical abuse has on NUH staff, sending a clear message that this will not be tolerated.

Keziah Wigglesworth, Registered Nurse on the Acute Medicine Unit at Queen’s Medical Centre, said: “Verbal and often physical aggression from patients is a regular occurrence on our ward. I have witnessed patients smash through windows on the unit using observation equipment - whilst it is still connected to a patient. On the ward we have seen relatives hit other family members in the face and then go on to be verbally abusive to staff.

“I remember there was one incident when a patient tried to strangle one of our nurses. We deal with patients who come into hospital and are aggressive and often take their frustrations out on us.”

The Not a Target campaign was launched last winter, at a time of year when aggressive behaviour traditionally spikes. The campaign was introduced in direct response to staff feedback which asked for action to be taken to help staff feel protected on  the wards. The aim of the campaign is to humanise NUH staff, encouraging members of the public to think about the people behind the uniform.

Figures from 2017/18 show there were 326 reports of physical attacks and 107 reports of verbal abuse on staff working across Queen’s Medical Centre and City Hospital.

Since launching the campaign in 2017, NUH have seen an increase in numbers of staff reporting physical attacks, and a reduction of levels of verbal abuse being reported. This suggests that staff are feeling better supported to report abuse, but more needs to be done to crack down on incidences of violence and abuse.

The Trust is warning that all abuse of staff is taken extremely seriously and NUH’s three sites have a combined total of 360 CCTV cameras to  assist with the punishment of offenders. The Police are an integral member of NUH’s Security Management Committee.

Nicky Hill, Director of Human Resources at NUH said: “We welcome these new measures to help clamp down on violence towards NHS staff. Incidences of verbal and physical abuse towards our front line staff are not uncommon, and violence remains one of the largest health and safety risks to our workforce, who are simply doing their best to care for patients safely.”