Violent and abusive patients who target staff in Sunderland’s hospital trust have been warned they face prosecution and being denied treatment.
The message from South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria Police comes after a recent jump in incidents of violence and aggression against staff.
Medical director Dr Shaz Wahid said workers were already under huge strain without having to worry about being attacked by those they were trying to help: “NHS staff are working above and beyond to care for the increasing numbers of patients accessing services at the moment,” he said.
“They are working under challenging circumstances and absolutely do not deserve to be treated with anything other than respect.
“Unfortunately, a minority of people do sometimes act in a violent and abusive manner towards them and this is simply not acceptable.
“We want to make it absolutely clear we will not tolerate physical, verbal or racist abuse. We encourage reporting of all forms of violence and aggression and, whenever possible, we always seek to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.”
The message follows a recent plea for people to only use A&E or 999 if their condition is life threatening and to think of alternative services such as local pharmacies, GPs, NHS111 online.
Dr Wahid added: “We know that services are busy at the moment and it can be frustrating for people. Our teams are doing the very best they can to help, but must prioritise caring for those who need it most.
“Being rude or aggressive to staff will not get you seen any quicker. It could result in you not being seen at all.
Chief Inspector Neil Hall, from Northumbria Police, said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ for emergency service workers to be assaulted, threatened or abused while carrying out their duties.
“Hospital staff come to work each day to help and care for people and should be able to do so free from abuse,” he said.
“We are committed to taking action against anyone who carries out such appalling behaviour.”
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