Warning over staff attacks at Eastbourne DGH

HOSPITAL staff are being attacked a rate of more than once a week by the very people they are trying to treat.

In the last 12 months alone, a total of 78 workers at Eastbourne’s DGH have been assaulted by patients while at work.

That means that a hospital worker is being attacked here in Eastbourne on an average of once every four days.

The figure for the DGH’s sister hospital in nearby Hastings, which is run by the same NHS trust, is a similarly high 57 assaults in the last year.

And at the Conquest staff also had to confiscate a knife from one patient. No weapons were reported at the DGH.

In the last six months alone the trust lost more than 7,500 working days to stress and a spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare Trust said the hospital’s hierarchy took the issue of staff safety very seriously.

“Violence against our staff is completely unacceptable,” he said. “No staff member should go to work thinking that violence or abuse is part of their everyday life.

“The number of incidents illustrates the added pressure faced by our staff in delivering care to patients.

“We take security very seriously and operate a zero tolerance policy encouraging staff to report all incidents of violence or abuse both physical and verbal.”

And they added that far from indicating that the DGH had become a dangerous place to work, it was actually proof that the trust had good procedures in place to deal with assaults.

“We do not believe this data indicates that the trust’s hospitals are violent places,” they added, “but rather that we have effective reporting systems and staff feel confident about using them.”

The attack data was released following a Freedom of Information request made by the Herald – and the town’s MP Stephen Lloyd, whose partner has experience working on the frontline of the health service, said DGH staff deserved better.

He said, “I support a 100 per cent zero tolerance on any hospital staff being assaulted by patients or visitors to the DGH.

“It is disappointing that such behaviour has become so much more prevalent in the last 20 years.

“The staff at the DGH work incredibly hard looking after patients and deserve our support.

“I am sure the majority of local people feel as strongly as I do about this important issue.”