Poll suggests NHS staff believe withholding treatment from violent patients is sometimes justifiable

Most NHS staff who responded to a website survey considered it reasonable, under certain circumstances, to withhold treatment from patients who assault staff.

In a poll of site users at NHS Networks, more than one in three respondents (34 per cent) believed the decision to treat or not should be at the discretion of the individual staff member and/or their manager. A similar number (32 per cent) believed it should depend on the severity of the patient's condition. Nineteen per cent were adamant that violent patients should always be denied treatment, while 10 per cent were equally clear that treatment should never be denied under any circumstances. Three per cent thought that the severity of the assault should be a factor, while 2 per cent thought treatment should be given, but only after treating other (non-violent) patients.

The poll was prompted by the recent agreement between the NHS Security Management Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers to work together to drive down assaults on NHS staff.