'Staff are tired, staff are upset' - what it's like working on the NHS frontline

  • Watch Max Walsh's report

Hospital staff in Bristol say they have seen a significant increase in verbal and physical abuse from patients during the pandemic.

Nurses working in Bristol say they are "tired and upset" from having seen “a lot of anger” from patients this year, with fists raised at them and even computers thrown.

Laura Fulton works as a sister at Southmead Hospital. She told ITV News West Country: “We shouldn't have to come to work and feel exposed to aggression and violence. 

Southmead Hospital Sister Laura Fulton. Credit: ITV

“We come to work because we want to care for patients. We’re nurses we want to care for patients and it’s just disappointing that the public think it is ok to submit us to violence and aggression.

“Staff are tired, staff are upset, but we work well as a team and will continue to do so.”

The NHS workers ITV News West Country spoke to believe the increase in violence is a direct result of the pandemic, as patients are more stressed and anxious. 

Changes within hospitals to ensure strict infection control often also means patients are in hospital are alone.

Anna Bell, Matron at Southmead Hospital has worked at the hospital for 13 years but says it’s the worst she’s seen it.

She said: “I’ve experienced and witnessed a lot of people in really vulnerable states. People behave differently. So we see a lot of anger and that sort of thing but we’re very good and attuned at de-escalating that.

“But I think we’ve seen much more physical aggression - so the throwing of things."

The South Bristol Community Hospital in Hengrove is designed to take the pressure off Bristol’s major hospitals.

Ros Green is a Senior Urgent Care Practitioner there, and says she too has experienced violence.

She said: “I’m at work to look after people, I’m not at work for people to take their aggression out on me and it’s just a horrible experience that leaves you feeling just in a really horrible situation and then you have to pick yourself up and sort of move on to see the next person and still have a smile on your face and so that’s just really difficult sometimes.”

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