THE yORKSHIRE Post is proud to have supported the so-called Protect the Protectors Bill that will see maximum prison sentence for any individual convicted of assaulting an emergency worker rise from six months to a year if the courts see sense and use the new powers at their disposal.
Inspired and instigated by Halifax MP Holly Lynch who then forged a cross-party consensus to implement the law, it recently revealed Royal Assent and police, prison officers, custody officers, firefighters, search and rescue services and certain healthcare workers, including ambulance crews.
Yet there’s already a case for extending the auspices of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill to all NHS staff after it emerged that 15 per cent of employees experienced some form of violence in the last year – the highest figure for five years.
These are people dedicated to caring for others. Yet, while patients with well-documented psychiatric and behavioural issues will always pose a significant challenge that needs to be recognised, there’s no justification for those who choose to lash out at health staff for no justifiable, or understandable, reason.
This is summed up by Kim Sunley, the national officer for the Royal College of Nursing, who said: “Nurses and health care workers understand their roles aren’t risk-free but, to many, it still seems as if the threat of physical violence is a daily reality.”
However, while this newspaper welcomes the first NHS Violence Reduction Strategy, increased monitoring of assaults only goes so far – assailants do need to be brought to justice to demonstrate, clearly, that their behaviour will not be tolerated any longer.