NHS to fine bullies

The government has unveiled plans to issue £1,000 fines to people who abuse NHS staff.

Assaults on NHS workers have become so commonplace that health ministers have decided to take a sterner approach.

Last year 60,385 NHS staff were physically assaulted while at work, which is equivalent to one assault for every 22 members of staff.

Doctors and nurses are attacked by patients as well as their friends and relatives, government research claims. Other staff such as receptionists and cleaners also suffer abuse.

The new plan will see fines for those abusing or simply threatening NHS staff and it is hoped that the threat of £1,000 fines will create a calmer atmosphere.

Health minister Caroline Flint said: “It is completely unacceptable that NHS staff have to suffer abuse at the hands of those they are trying to help. NHS staff deserve respect not abuse.

“We will be tough on offenders. Under our proposals, patients and relatives who verbally abuse or threaten NHS staff could face a fine of up to £1,000. We will also give the NHS the power to physically remove offenders from the premises. We aim to create a culture of respect towards NHS staff, and where needed, enforce it.”

The plan is intended to combat the violent attitude of patients under the influence of drugs and alcohol in particular. A large percentage of people coming into accident and emergency departments have been hurt while they are drunk.

Mental health staff are the most likely to be hurt by patients and on average there is one assault per five members of staff every year.