Health bosses at Hereford County Hospital have joined forces with the police to appeal for patients and visitors in the Emergency Department to respect the staff who work there.

The appeal follows an increasing number of incidents faced by nurses and doctors as they treat patients in the busy department.

Some of the incidents are witnessed by children in the department and on one occasion young patients had to be moved back into the waiting area for their safety.

Other recent incidents include:

A patient punching walls, doors, nurses station causing damage, running around the department shouting and causing distress to others

A patient assaulting two staff members – one needed treatment by colleagues in ED

Three-hour stand-off with a patient threatening violence

Aggressive behaviour following recreational drug use

Attempts to break into the drug cupboard

Standing on desks and shouting abuse and threatening staff

Throwing furniture at staff and attempts to assault staff

On some occasions this behaviour resulted in staff having to move patients on trolleys to safety, some staff require requiring counselling and the delay of treatment to some patients.

“Our staff are incredibly hard working and seek to provide the best care they can. Much of the time they are working under extreme pressure and having to make critical decisions very quickly,” said ED Consultant Rachel McColm.

“While we understand that some patients can be aggressive due to their illness or injury – and our staff are trained to manage these situations – we have a zero-tolerance approach to violence against our team and we’re absolutely committed to keeping them safe at work.

“These acts of aggression not only put the team at risk but they also directly affect the safety of other patients and we will not accept it.”

Incidents that are reported are reviewed and the Trust’s Local Security Management Specialist, Tristan Morgan, said: “Where appropriate, the Trust will take sanctions against individuals who commit crime on site against staff as well as criminal damage.

“We’re clear that we won’t accept criminal or anti-social behaviour on Trust premises. It’s important that our staff, who have been affected by crime, see that strict actions are taken against perpetrators.”

The Trust has met with West Mercia Police representatives and a package of measures are being introduced to ensure the Emergency Department is a safer place for patients and staff.

Operation Nightingale has seen increasing visibility of a police presence in the Emergency Department and the introduction of CCTV.

Nationally, violence and aggression against NHS staff is on the increase. Staff in the Emergency Department at Hereford County Hospital have reported a similar increase in incidents and have raised concerns

“Violence and aggression is not something anyone should have to tolerate anywhere,” said Superintendent Sue Thomas from Hereford Police. “It’s particularly distressing that staff caring for very sick people in the Emergency Department should be subject to this kind of behaviour. We are working with hospital staff to ensure that the environment is safer and, in turn, this should reduce the need to call the Police.

“We will support our colleagues at Hereford County Hospital and will use appropriate powers and legislation to prosecute where necessary, however the responsibility lies with everyone who uses the hospital to ensure they show respect to the staff who provide care there,” added Superintendent Thomas.