We have launched a new campaign to tackle physical and verbal abuse towards NHS staff.

The ‘HUMAN’ campaign will see messages shared across the Trust’s sites featuring close up images of local staff, to remind patients, families and the community to treat health care professionals with kindness and respect.

It comes as almost a quarter of trust staff reported experiencing harassment, bullying or harassment from patients or families in last year’s staff survey, with staff from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic  backgrounds being 5% more likely to experience it.

Louise Buchanan smaller file.jpgDr Louise Buchanan, medical director and consultant cardiologist explained, “Over the last 12 months, we have had 350 incidents of physical or verbal aggression towards staff reported. As a Trust it’s important we do as much as we can to protect our staff while at work. That’s why we are launching a campaign to reduce violence and aggression towards our staff - to show that they are all human too, each with their own personal lives, responsibilities and vulnerabilities. When our staff face aggression or sometimes even physical violence, it can have a serious impact on their shift, their day, their wellbeing and ultimately their ability to provide high quality care. This can sometimes result in instances where staff are then absent from work and have a much longer term impact on their health. NHS staff are here to help you and they deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, while they are at work.”

Mum Rachel Glover works as a stroke nurse consultant at the West Cumberland Hospital.Stroke Nurse Consultant Rachel Glover 11.jpg

She said: “I have encountered poor behaviours from patients. Most encounters have been from relatives – aggressive body language, people pointing at me, raising their voices and swearing. Their behaviour made me feel upset and intimidated.”

Bita Ebrahim, a hygiene specialist at the West Cumberland Hospital, said:

Bita Ebrahim - HUMAN 8.jpg"Unfortunately, I have suffered aggression and violence while I have been at work.

“I was once working in the ward doing a deep clean around the sitting area. I’d moved chairs and a table to one side so I could clean. All of a sudden, a male patient came along and demanded I return the chairs to where they’d come from. He started using abusive words. I had to request assistance from the ward staff to calm the patient down.

“As much as I understood the patient, I felt embarrassed.”

Steve Johnson is a meet and greet volunteer at the Cumberland Infirmary. He is also a father and brother.Steve Johnson Landscape.jpg

He said: “I haven’t encountered any violence but there has been aggression. This can happen frequently. On one occasion, I was shouted and swore at because I hesitated in answering as to where a clinic was. I was told I was no good and that I was a waste of space.

“I appreciate people are apprehensive but that’s no excuse for rudeness. It’s just anxiety most of the time but it doesn’t excuse rudeness or insults.”

Dr Buchanan added, “When patients and their relatives come into our services, they are often distressed and can react in ways that are out of character for them. This is heightened when our services are under pressure and patients and relatives experience long waits. Some of our patients also may be more aggressive due to their condition. We do accept this, however we know that in many cases the aggression and violence cannot be excused.”

Barbara McCready, an advanced specialist physiotherapist, said: “I have previously encountered verbal aggression from patients and their relatives towards myself and my colleagues.Barbara McCready folded arms1.jpg This often arises from frustration and concern about the care of people’s loved ones and often prolonged waiting times to access services. From a personal perspective, I can understand why emotions can be high in these circumstances but aggression or violence does not help resolve things.

“I have found that as a staff member it is important to remain calm, while trying to offer open communication to explore the individuals concerns with kindness and compassion. Working in healthcare can be very challenging and when things go wrong or communication breaks down it also feels very difficult for us too. We are human, and we are in these roles as we are very passionate about caring for others and really do want to help.”

Dr Olaniyi Kehinde, Clinical Director of Paediatrics, said: “In the course of my job I have suffered some verbal aggression from the parent of a child I was caring for.Niyi Kehinde 1 HD.jpg I felt intimidated and I felt that they were not respectful in their behaviour towards me.

“In the middle of this is a child who I am trying to care for and get better. My thoughts are always what is best for that child.”

Dr Kehinde said when this incident happened he had good support from his colleagues.

“I kept wondering if I could have handled the situation better but I don’t think I could. My colleagues were great in supporting me and it makes you realise that not everyone is appreciative of what we do.

“The next day after this incident was another day and we move on. We have to.”

HUMAN posters featuring local staff will be appearing in waiting rooms across the Trust and on our website and social media channels over Christmas and into the new year.