Zero tolerance of NHS staff abuse promised in the wake of ‘Freedom Day’

NHS chiefs in Northumberland have insisted there will be zero tolerance of any abuse levelled at staff in the wake of ‘Freedom Day’.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 9:50 am
Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at Northumbria Healthcare.

Bosses in the county have said that despite the scrapping of many restrictions on gatherings and face coverings, they will continue to request that previous guidelines are followed while on hospital premises.

But they have also suggested they may face a challenge from some members of the public, even if most are happy to go along with it.

“We try to persuade them and, to be quite honest, we generally are able to persuade them just to abide by our rules when they’re on our premises,” said Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at Northumbria Healthcare.

“We take a very firm line (against abuse of staff) because our staff are doing their level best trying to protect everybody – our patients (and) ourselves.

“But we won’t tolerate anybody that abuses our staff, that isn’t fair.

“We’re all under the same pressure as everybody else, our staff are human like everybody else and we just need people to treat them with the respect that they deserve.”

While physical abuse remains rare, some NHS workers have already faced verbal abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Northumberland’s hospitals, volunteers are often on hand to remind visitors of the on-site guidelines.

And according to Ms Dickson, most potential rule breakers are quickly brought into line once the reasons for the guidance – to protect the health of patients and NHS workers – are explained to them.

Northumberland County Council is among a raft of other organisations which has said it intends to carry on with social distancing and face coverings after ‘Freedom Day’.

Northumberland’s hospitals have also insisted they will carry on with ‘business as usual’ on Covid measures for the foreseeable future.

Earlier this year, police were forced to boost their presence at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington, in a bid to protect staff and patients from threats, abuse and even assaults.

According to an NHS staff survey published in 2020, a quarter of respondents claimed they had faced ‘harassment, bullying or abuse’ while doing their jobs, while one in seven had experienced physical violence.