MORE than 170 people have been prosecuted for or warned about abusive behaviour towards NHS staff in Cwm Taf in just six months.
The figures come as a new memorandum of understanding between the four police forces in Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service and NHS Wales will strengthen the zero tolerance approach to violence and aggression towards NHS staff.
Speaking on National Personal Safety Day (October 14), Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Not only does this memorandum of understanding provide a clear understanding of the respective roles, responsibilities and processes involved, but it will also help NHS staff better understand the criminal justice system and have confidence that it can deliver the right results.
“This agreement builds on a number of related initiatives already in place throughout Wales - such as the installation of CCTV in clinical areas, lone worker safety devices connected to police control centres and support systems for victims of violence or aggression. Our approach has seen a huge rise in successful prosecutions.
“The challenge now is to implement this memorandum of understanding, with its clear statement on prosecution policy, to reinforce the message that neither violence nor aggression against NHS staff will be tolerated.”
In the first six months of 2013, Cwm Taf Health Board has successfully prosecuted a number of people who were violent or aggressive towards NHS staff.
Sentences passed by magistrates’ and crown courts include:
12-month community order for aggressive and threatening behaviour
12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and a £150 fine for assault and aggressive and threatening behaviour
Fines of £178 and £142 for verbal abuse towards NHS staff
Youth rehabilitation order for assault
Six-month community order and £245 fine for theft, assault and aggressive and threatening behaviour.
Cwm Taf Health Board works closely with the Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf community safety partnerships to tackle violent and aggressive behaviour against NHS staff and made 68 anti-social behaviour referrals in the first six months of 2013.
It has also placed 55 warning markers on patients’ records to warn staff about the potential risk of violent or aggressive behaviour and the health board has sent 40 code of conduct letters to patients to inform them their behaviour towards staff was unacceptable.
Dave Lewis, Cwm Taf Health Board’s violence and aggression case manager, said: “We take all acts of abusive or threatening behaviour towards our staff very seriously and will take action against the perpetrators.
“Our staff come to work every day, often in very stressful and demanding circumstances, to help people. Abuse, threats and violence are not and never should be part of their daily work.
“The memorandum of understanding will help us to ensure that we can take action when our staff are threatened and it will strengthen the already close relationships we have forged with the community safety partnerships and the Crown Prosecution Service.”