Greater Manchester hospitals: “Outrageous” assaults on staff more than double since pre-COVID years

Assaults on hospital staff in Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust hospitals have more than doubled since 2018/19.

The data – which comes from a freedom of information request submitted to the trust – shows that there was a total of 3824 assaults in the last financial year, compared to just 1908 six years ago.

According to the trust’s response, the number of assaults could be even higher as a small amount of data was not released as it could lead to staff identification, breaching the Data Protection Act.

UNISON regional organiser Paddy Cleary said: “It’s outrageous for anyone to have to face violence, abuse, or harassment at work.

“The fact that this is increasingly a daily reality for hospital staff is a woeful indictment of the state of the NHS under this government.

“As a normal part of the job, hospital workers are faced with incredibly stressful challenges every day. Experiencing violence and sexual assault on top of that is forcing many dedicated people to leave the NHS, making the ongoing staffing crisis even worse.

“This situation cannot be allowed to continue. NHS employers must address this issue as a matter of urgency.”

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust is the largest trust in the UK and operates 10 hospitals in Greater Manchester, including Manchester Royal Infirmary, North Manchester General Hospital, Trafford General Hospital and Wythenshawe Hospital.

Their freedom of information response also broke the data on assaults into physical, non-physical, and sexual.

In 2018/19, there were 651 physical assaults, compared to 1,175 in the last financial year – an increase of more than 80%.

The number of non-physical assaults more than doubled over the same period of time, from 1,220 to 2,598.

According to the data, there was also an increase in the number of sexual assaults, from 37 in 2018/19 to 51 in 2023/24.

In terms of the overall trend in the data, there was a decrease during the year 2020/21, which likely came as a result of the pandemic.

Other than this exception, the number of assaults has risen every year since 2018/19.

John Weir, an organiser for GMB, said: “No one should go to work and expect to be assaulted – yet that’s the sad reality for many GMB members in the NHS and ambulance service.

“Our health service is chronically understaffed and under-resourced after more than a decade of Tory austerity, leaving workers exposed and patients and their families desperate.

“GMB demands a zero-tolerance approach to assaults; without repercussions and prosecutions, certain individuals will continue to attack our members.”

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment on the figures.

Feature image credit: Adhy Savala.

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