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Mental health violence in East End hospitals puts staff at risk

PUBLISHED: 17:52 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:28 05 October 2010

LEVELS of violence are still high on mental health wards in the East End and not enough is being done to ensure the safety of staff and patients who are suffering from physical and verbal abuse, according to a health care watchdog. The East London NHS

LEVELS of violence are still high on mental health wards in the East End and not enough is being done to ensure the safety of staff and patients who are suffering from physical and verbal abuse, according to a health care watchdog.

The East London NHS Foundation Trust received the lowest rating of `weak' in a review by the Healthcare Commission in the way its staff are victims of physical violence, bullying, harassment and abuse.

And it is not only the staff who are the victims, with reports of patients also being involved in assaults last year.

In 2007 there were 398 physical and verbal assaults on the trust's members of staff - a drop of 81 assaults from the year before - and 344 occasions when patients hit out at fellow patients or visitors.

And the Healthcare Commission review put the trust among the bottom 10 per cent of the 69 mental health trusts in England for ensuring the safety of its patients, staff and visitors.

The trust, which provides services for Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and the City of London, received an overall rating of `fair' in the investigation which monitored a range of criteria.

The categories included whether there was regular one-to-one sessions with nursing staff, patients' views were recorded on the most recent care plans and staff were sufficiently trained.

The investigation revealed that although the trust is training staff in the prevention and handling of violence and aggression, workers are not being trained enough in sexual safety awareness or how to deal with alcohol or drugs-users.

The assessment of all the country's mental health trusts revealed 45 per cent of nurses and 15 per cent of patients were assaulted last year.

And part of the cause is believed to be overcrowding, with the trusts not having enough beds for patients.

The East London trust received a rating of 'weak' in this category.

A trust spokeswoman insisted that staff are receiving more training, particularly in how to deal with dual diagnostic patients who have mental health problems and drug or alcohol abuse.

She said: "We take all incidents of violence toward staff, patients and visitors very seriously.

"The Trust Executive Team has made addressing this issue of bed occupancy rates the highest priority. A number of measures have been set in train and regular monitoring of the situation is taking place.

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