Are there fewer crime assaults against NHS Scotland staff because they’re more effective and better staffed?

In the Guardian yesterday:

In the latest available annual NHS staff survey, from last year, 14.5% of staff said they had experienced physical violence from patients, their relatives or the public. But the trade union, Unison, believes many incidents are going unreported. Its research with the Health Service Journal, based on freedom of information requests from all NHS trusts in England in 2016-17, found physical assaults on NHS hospital staff had risen 9.7% since 2015-16. The figures suggested that, on average, there were just over 200 reported violent attacks on NHS workers every day.

The situation in NHS Scotland is significantly different:

Convictions for violence and/or aggression toward NHS Scotland staff have fallen from 301 in 2008/9 to 190 in 2017/18, a fall of 37% in 9 years. NHS Scotland has 160 000 staff, so convictions are at 0.11875%.

Click to access WA20190726.pdf

There has been a particularly welcomed and dramatic fall, 35% in only 5 years, in attacks on emergency workers, again in line with overall crime reduction in Scotland after more than a decade of SNP-rule. See:

Why? Perceptions of inequality are strongly associated with problems such as violent crime. Has the SG government, within the UK straight-jacket, had some effect on reducing a commonly shared sense of inequality? See this for more:

Click to access SpiritLevel-jpg_0.pdf

More likely? NHS Scotland is just more effective with fewer delays and more staff. That must surely mean fewer situations where perhaps some scared patient tries the only thing they know to get attention?

3 thoughts on “Are there fewer crime assaults against NHS Scotland staff because they’re more effective and better staffed?

  1. One factor in this might be the Violence Reduction Unit’s Navigators programme. This entails VRU staff working in the A&E units in major hospitals such as Glasgow and Edinburgh Royal Infirmaries and Crosshouse in Kilmarnock.
    This is a proactive and supportive intervention.


    1. Another factor may be the patients themselves, whether attending as outpatients or in the wards, who would not put up with people assaulting the staff such is their regard for what the staff do for them and the NHS Scotland as a whole. Just because you cannot quantify this effect does not mean it can be discounted.

      Over the past two years I have attended hospital over 50 times of which a few of these visits have been on my own account. These visits encompassed a wide range of departments including A&E and in some cases the attendance lasted for several hours. Never once did I see any patient being aggressive to the staff.

      Sure there will be times when staff have to deal with patients off their heads with drink/drugs or affected by some medical condition eg hypoglycaemia that can make them seem aggressive but that is due to their condition not their attitude to the staff.

      It does happen but it is usually dealt with quickly and effectively. Management and Staff know where and when the flashpoints may occur and on the whole have put mechanisms in place to deal with it.


      1. I have mentioned this before on this site, but it supports your view. There was a report on BBC Scotland describing the A&E at Glasgow Royal Infirmary one Friday evening between Christmas and Ne’erday, as ‘worse than in a third world disaster area’.

        By accident (!!) I was in the A&E at that time having sliced the tip off a finger when using new knives my beloved had bought for my Christmas present. It was fairly busy, but not nearly as busy as I recall it used to be at weekends in the 1960s and 70s. There was no disorder. A few people were clearly bevvied, but they conducted themselves well, mainly by falling asleep. When I was taken into the inner area for treatment, again it was very quiet. There were two police officers who had brought in a man who had experienced an unprovoked assault in the street. Despite the fact that people needed treatment, the atmosphere was quite pleasant as the staff handled things with efficiency and good humour. I was in and out in under 3 hours, but most of that time was spent was waiting to see if what the nurse had done had made the bleeding stop. (I was on blood thinners and this was retarding coagulation.)

        People had clear respect for the staff and, with few exceptions, on leaving, they made a point of thanking the staff from receptionists to doctors. The staff responded good naturedly. So, I think people would be prepared to intervene were staff being harassed.

        ‘Third world disaster area’ it most certainly was NOT!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.