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Attacks on mental health nurses

13th February 2008

A major study has revealed that more than half of the nurses who work on mental health wards have been physically attacked.

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The findings come in a joint report produced by the Healthcare Commission and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which looked at 69 NHS trusts and private hospitals across England and Wales providing inpatient care for 30,000 mental health patients.

The study asked nurses, doctors, visitors and patients about attacks and threats and found the staff who were most likely to be attacked were those working with older patients. Injuries included broken bones and black eyes.

Figures revealed 46% of nurses on mental health wards for working age patients said they had been assaulted but that rose to 64% for staff on wards for older people with most occurring in units caring for people with dementia rather than those looking after patients with depression. Patients were also found to be under threat of attack.

The joint document called for improvements to reduce the attacks, suggesting increased staff levels and improved training.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said the audit revealed “worrying levels of violence��? against staff in mental health units.

Steve Shrubb, the director of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, acknowledged the level of violence was “unacceptable��? but said that mental health providers took the matter very seriously and there had been improvements in the way such incidents were being dealt with.

The Royal College of Nursing said the levels of violence identified were “deeply serious and unacceptable.��?

 

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