06-09-11 Nurse Assaulted while trying to Help? (Workplace Violence)
The below was sent to us by a frustrated Nurse (his quote) here in Northern Ireland, asking us do we think that zero tolerance works in the Health Trusts?
We have previously commented on Zero Tolerance in our blogs and magazine articles as well discussing it with our own clients. The problem we have found with Zero Tolerance is the lack of direction given to many members of staff, because if you just say to a member of staff we have zero tolerance to aggression, but then don’t explain what the level is!
I have worked with many different organisations and some highly qualified professionals, but when I have spoken to them on this subject their own level and interpretation of what is zero tolerance is vastly different in the use of force.
If any organisation wants to use the term zero tolerance in any policy or statement, they must be sure they define the level of force because many people when placed in a threatening situation will go more by their instincts for survival if not fully briefed or trained.
The below is a common incident and I am sure that individuals morale and motivation is damaged when people get away with these actions of aggressive natures. The government should make it a serious criminal offence if anyone is assaulted in the workplace and not hide behind terminology of using reference to your zero tolerance guidelines.
Many organisations speak to us about designing effective policies that help staff know the lines they can use to protect themselves and others. If you need any help or guidance please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Quell.
Article sent by: D Travis
Blog by Will Holland
Nurse’s anger over police caution for patient who throttled him
A NURSE has spoken of his anger after a patient who throttled him was “let off” with a police caution.
Neil Evans, who was attacked while working in the A&E department at the Princess of Wales Hospital, in Bridgend, contrasted the caution with the six-week prison sentence given to the man who threw a foam pie at media tycoon Rupert Murdoch during his recent appearance before a select committee.
The Royal College of Nursing Wales called for a change in the law to make assaulting all NHS staff comparable with assaulting a police officer or other emergency worker.
Mr Evans, who has been a nurse for 10 years, was grabbed around the neck by a 22-year-old patient in the emergency department at the busy hospital on June 27.
The 40-year-old nurse said: “The police asked me what I wanted to do and I told them I wanted to pursue this all the way.
“The NHS has a policy of zero tolerance.
“This sort of thing shouldn’t happen – we’re here to help people.
“I wanted to pursue this because people have to know that this is unacceptable behaviour, whether they’re in hospital or in wider society.
“You can’t go around attacking people.”
Mr Evans was later told by police that his attacker was being given a caution because he has shown remorse.
“What makes me more upset is when you read that the man who threw a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch gets a six-week sentence and he didn’t physically touch him,” he said.
Protester Jonathan May-Bowles, 26, was sentenced to six weeks in jail, later reduced to four, for a public order offence for attacking Mr Murdoch, 80, while he gave evidence about phone hacking at the News of the World to a House of Commons select committee.
Mr Evans, who has worked at the Princess of Wales Hospital for nine years, added: “It’s my feeling that if this had happened to a police officer, they wouldn’t have been so lenient. I feel the police took the easy option.
“The police have said the man will have a record but a caution is just like a slap on the wrist.”
He added: “I’m a fairly sturdy guy but the attack has made me more cautious; I’m more wary about certain situations and I try and make sure security are near when I’m at work.”
Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, said: “I would expect, where there’s been a witnessed incident of violence or aggression, the police would investigate fully and take appropriate action to take the case forward.
“This also highlights the need for legislation to protect healthcare workers in the workplace similar to the comfort that police officers have.”
Mr Evans’ case comes as figures show a record number of people were prosecuted and punished for attacking NHS staff last year.
More than 400 cases of assault were passed to the police in Wales.
There were 126 successful prosecutions and a further 143 people were given other sanctions, including antisocial behaviour orders, fixed penalty notices and written patient undertakings.
Detective Chief Inspector Marc Lamerton, of South Wales Police, said: “Officers attended the Princess of Wales Hospital where they arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of common assault on a member of staff.
“The suspect fully admitted the offence and expressed remorse for his actions, which was conveyed to the victim in this case.
“He was subsequently given a caution for common assault.
“South Wales Police does not tolerate doctors, nurses or any other health care professionals being subject to abuse while they are doing their job in treating patients.
“We will always take action against perpetrators within the current judicial framework as we have done in this instance.”
A spokeswoman for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which runs the hospital, said: “It is the policy of the health board that violence and aggression towards any of its employees will not be tolerated.
“We therefore operate a zero tolerance approach on harm to staff and take all reasonable steps to prevent such incidents occurring and protect staff, this includes supporting prosecution.”
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