16 October 2003
UNISON accuses Scottish Executive of complacency as Scottish nurses
are stabbed, head-butted, sexually assaulted and threatened with
Scotland's largest health care union, UNISON today (Thursday) accused
the Scottish Executive of complacency in its dealings with the health
and safety of Scotland's 135,000 health service workers.
Speaking at a *Health and Safety Conference in Edinburgh, Jim Devine,
UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Health) said, "Two years ago, over
a relatively short period of time, there were 112 physical assaults
on doctors and nurses at the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow including
one sexual assault. At the Southern General there were 166 physical
assaults including one incident where a patient threatened a junior
doctor with a knife.
"This year, while working in the Scottish NHS nurses have been
stabbed, head-butted, sexually assaulted and threatened with guns.
During the summer in a London hospital a nurse was murdered while
"Against this background of increased violence against health service
workers, one has to ask what the Scottish Executive's response has
been. Sadly, the only conclusion you can reach is that it is one
"Today there is no standard definition of physical and verbal abuse
applying throughout the Scottish Health Service and as a consequence
the statistics that are supplied by most Trusts are almost meaningless.
Unless a serious incident has occurred it is not recorded.
"Training and preventative strategies are inconsistent, while recording
procedures are complex and time consuming. Even simple poster campaigns
are absent from most hospitals. The last Conservative Government
introduced a Patients Charter with a great deal of razzmatazz and
resources. It is time a similar initiative was taken for Scotland's
135,000 NHS staff. Jim Devine is calling on the Scottish Executive
to introduce UNISON's 6-point action plan.
* The Scottish Health Minister and NHS trade unions jointly issue
a Staff Charter, reminding the public that it is not part of an
NHS worker's job to be physically or verbally abused at work.
* The standardisation throughout Scotland of the definition, recording
and follow up of violent and potentially violent incidents, including
verbal abuse, for all NHS staff. More Follows/P2 P2- Nursing staff
attacked/UNISON accuses Scottish Executive
* An agreed training course on the management of violent or potentially
violent incidents for all NHS staff.
* The introduction of a 'yellow and red card' warning system to
members of the public who consistently abuse NHS staff. These warnings
could lead to the banning of individuals from NHS premises if they
persistently physically or verbally abuse staff.
* Relatives who physically abuse NHS staff must be automatically
charged and prosecuted by the Procurator Fiscal.
* Every NHS worker in Scotland has a duty of care to her/himself
and to her/his colleagues, to use the reporting system for every
incident, and accept and expect that zero tolerance is not just
the preferred but the only option.
*Conference will be held in the Crown Plaza Hotel, 80 High Street,
Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
For Further Information Please Contact: Jim Devine, Scottish
Organiser 0845 355 0845(w) 07876 441239(m) Chris Bartter, Communications
Officer, 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
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