Top Nurse Welcomes Action On Violent Patients

Carmarthenshire’s top casualty nurse has welcomed Assembly plans to tackle violent patients.The county’s NHS Trust’s senior A &E nurse, Lesley Jenkins, says she is backing the move towards “zero tolerance” of abuse towards health workers.

The idea was revealed by Health Minister Edwina Hart at the start of the month.

She wants a taskforce made up of health professionals and trade unions, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to tackle the problem head on.

She said: “Violence against, or abuse of, NHS staff is completely unacceptable.”

A zero tolerance policy has been in place in Carmarthenshire for a number of years.

Last year, the county’s NHS trust recorded 78 cases of abuse. The Cardiff and Vale trust had 1668 cases.

However, the new taskforce will look at how incidents are reported and investigate ways of making sure action is taken and staff are supported through their ordeal.

Carmarthenshire NHS Trust’s Mrs Jenkins, whose post covers both Llanelli’s Prince Philip and Carmarthen’s Glangwili Hospitals, welcomed the taskforce.

She said: “While we are lucky in Carmarthenshire because there is a low incidence of abuse against health care staff, it is important that trusts are supported by the Government to adopt a uniform zero tolerance policy.

“It is also good to note that this new task and finish group will be led by a representative from the Royal College of Nursing, which shows a commitment to listening to frontline staff.”

Unions have also welcomed the new taskforce. They claim there are up to 7,000 cases of violence against NHS staff every year. At Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital, there have been 12 cases of abuse so far this year. The eight of these which relate to physical abuse, assault or violence were all carried out by elderly or confused patients.

“Carmarthenshire has one of the lowest incidents of violence when compared to the rest of Wales, with many incidents being related to confused or elderly patients,” added Mrs Jenkins.

“However, the trust is not complacent and a zero tolerance policy has been adopted here for many years. Staff are supported in dealing with violent and aggressive behaviour via policies, procedures, and training, which includes the all-Wales NHS violence and aggression training passport and information scheme.”