Campaign launched to tackle physical and verbal abuse towards NHS staff in Cumbria

Staff from black, asian and ethnic minorities are 5% more likely to experience harassment or bullying. Credit: PA Images

A campaign has been launched to tackle physical and verbal abuse towards NHS staff in Cumbria.

North Cumbria Integrated Care has launched the 'HUMAN' campaign which is designed to remind people to treat NHS staff with kindness and respect.

In a survey last year almost a quarter of NHS staff in Cumbria reported experiencing harassment or bullying from patients and families.

Staff from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are 5% more likely to be targeted.

Dr Louise Buchanan, medical director and consultant cardiologist explained: “Over the last 12 months, we have had 350 incidents of physical or verbal aggression towards staff reported. 

"As a Trust it’s important we do as much as we can to protect our staff while at work. That’s why we are launching a campaign to reduce violence and aggression towards our staff - to show that they are all human too, each with their own personal lives, responsibilities and vulnerabilities. 

"When our staff face aggression or sometimes even physical violence, it can have a serious impact on their shift, their day, their wellbeing and ultimately their ability to provide high quality care. This can sometimes result in instances where staff are then absent from work and have a much longer term impact on their health. 

"NHS staff are here to help you and they deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, while they are at work.”

Rachel Glover works as a stroke nurse consultant at the West Cumberland Hospital. She spoke about different behaviours she has experienced during her working life.

She said: "I have encountered poor behaviours from patients. Most encounters have been from relatives – aggressive body language, people pointing at me, raising their voices and swearing. Their behaviour made me feel upset and intimidated."

Hygiene Specialist Bita Ebrahim spoke about the aggression and violence she has experienced in the workplace.

She said: "Unfortunately, I have suffered aggression and violence while I have been at work.

“I was once working in the ward doing a deep clean around the sitting area. I’d moved chairs and a table to one side so I could clean. All of a sudden, a male patient came along and demanded I return the chairs to where they’d come from. He started using abusive words. I had to request assistance from the ward staff to calm the patient down.

“As much as I understood the patient, I felt embarrassed.”

Posters featuring local staff will appear in the waiting rooms across the Trust and on social media over the Christmas period.

Dr Buchanan added: “When patients and their relatives come into our services, they are often distressed and can react in ways that are out of character for them. 

"This is heightened when our services are under pressure and patients and relatives experience long waits. Some of our patients also may be more aggressive due to their condition. We do accept this, however we know that in many cases the aggression and violence cannot be excused.”

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