Spitting, racial abuse and anti-social behaviour: NHS warning to louts at Shropshire's hospitals
Spitting and verbal abuse were among 109 intentional incidents of anti-social behaviour at the county’s two main hospitals over the last year, figures have revealed.
There were 45 recorded incidents at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and 64 at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital in 2016/17.
Of those, 31 involved physical contact – which includes spitting – and 78 were non-physical – which includes verbal abuse, threatening and intimidating behaviour, racial abuse and abusive phone calls.
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said body-worn video cameras used by security staff and security teams on duty round the clock at both hospitals are one of the initiatives in place to curb anti-social behaviour.
SaTH, which has released the figures, has now issued a warning to those who behave badly at its two acute hospitals, saying that it will not be tolerated.
The trust said warning letters are always sent to those found intentionally acting anti-socially at hospitals or any of the trust’s other sites, while those being physically abusive could face prosecution. Two recent prosecutions include criminal damage at the PRH, and drunk and disorderly at the RSH.
The letters, which are signed by the chief executive, are issued to those who have been verbally abusive or physically aggressive to staff in the course of their duty.
They warn the recipients that they could have non-life threatening or routine treatment withheld if they repeat their behaviour. In 2016/2017 50 letters were sent and, as a result of those, no-one who returned for treatment repeated their behaviour.
Since 2009 the number of intentional incidents – verbal and physical – at the two hospitals has decreased.
Despite seeing fewer incidents, the trust said it remains committed in its efforts to ensure the safety of its staff working in its hospitals and this week launches a zero tolerance campaign to send out the message that any anti-social behaviour will be dealt with by way of warning letter, or the trust will support prosecution.
Simon Wright, chief executive, said: “Our staff deserve to be able to go about their duties without fear of aggression – verbal or physical. Anyone who behaves anti-socially should be warned that it will not be tolerated. It could result in prosecution, or the risk of non-urgent treatment being stopped.”
Jon Simpson, trust security manager, added: “The trust is proactive when it comes to the safety of staff. The trust was the first in the West Midlands to use body worn cameras to help collect information for police, and these have been successful. The Trust’s policy of sending letters to individuals who have been verbally abusive at our hospitals is also working.
“The message is simple. Anti-social behaviour – whether verbal or physical – will not be tolerated. And we will continue to remain proactive in our efforts to keep staff, and patients safe.”