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Attacks against NHS staff increase

Research by HSJ and Unison has found an absolute increase of 9.7 per cent in violent attacks on NHS hospital staff.

HSJ submitted freedom of information requests to all NHS trusts and received responses from just over 75 per cent. The research revealed sharp increases in attacks on staff working for acute trusts, but also a levelling off in assaults in mental health settings.

The work is part of an HSJ special report sponsored by Unison, which explores the reasons behind the rise in violence and the variation across NHS trusts.

The data gathered showed 56,435 reported physical assaults on NHS staff in 2016-17. Extrapolating numbers from this sample to cover the whole NHS in England, this suggests there were an average of just over 200 reported physical assaults on NHS staff every day.

When measured per 1,000 staff (to account for growth in the NHS workforce), reported attacks rose by 6 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17. The absolute increase between the two years was 9.7 per cent.

The report includes case studies of trusts that have implemented a range of interventions to prevent harm to staff and Mersey Care Foundation Trust chief executive Joe Rafferty writing about the trust’s initiatives to reduce physical assaults.

CCG takes swipe over app

Commissioners in south London have complained to counterparts elsewhere in the capital about GP at Hand – claiming patients who switch to the online service are not clearly told they could lose access to their existing GP.

Richard Rice, who chairs Greenwich clinical commissioning group’s primary care committee, outlined his concerns about the online GP practice in a letter to Hammersmith and Fulham CCG managing director Janet Cree last month.

GP at Hand, a partnership between a Fulham practice and online provider Babylon Health, has been enormously successfully in attracting NHS patients by offering free video GP consultation services via a mobile app.

The practice is based in Hammersmith and Fulham CCG’s area but registers patients from across London.

Mr Rice said Greenwich GPs had reported losing patients to GP at Hand only for the same patients to return once they realised they were no longer registered with their local practice.

Responding, Ms Cree said Hammersmith and Fulham CCG had not seen an increase in complaints from patients unaware they were deregistering from their existing practice when moving to GP at Hand.

In the six months to March 2018, GP at Hand’s practice list grew from 4,564 to 24,652 patients.