“You wouldn’t behave like that in a gym” health care workers speak up as violent incidents across the region are on the rise

Staff at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Hospital Foundation Trust have spoken out once more on the impact of violent behaviour towards their staff with a series of video messages developed and delivered by their own workforce.

Image of an aggressive gym user with overlay of text saying 'you wouldn't do this in a gym'Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and administrators switched from their day-to-day roles to star in a host of brief videos highlighting the issues faced by NHS staff when members of the public become violent and aggressive whilst in their care.

The series highlights the thoughts and feelings of Trust staff – how violent behaviour in other every day scenarios would not be tolerated, and should not be within any health and care setting. The first of the clips shows a gym goer who becomes aggressive with a personal trainer quickly fade to a patient undertaking life-enabling physiotherapy.

Filmed in the Cutting Edge salon at University Hospital of North Tees, a second clip shows a client verbally abusing her hairdresser before the situation flips to a nurse dressing a wound in a hospital room.

Image of violent client in a hairdresser environment, with overlay of text 'you wouldn't do this in a hairdressers'The aim of the videos says the Trust is to help viewers understand the rise in attacks on staff, and how they are simply not acceptable.

The message is clear: You wouldn’t behave aggressively in everyday situations, so don’t behave like that in health care settings.

Helen Hall, a Trust clinical administrator who acted in the short film set in a gym, experienced what she describes as ‘horrendous workplace violence’.

“I was punched in the face”, Helen said.

She continued: “A long time ago I worked at a GP’s surgery. I was working late and all the doctors had gone out on call. I was the only one in the surgery.

“A patient came in who wanted an urgent prescription. Obviously it needs to be signed by the GP. I explained to him there was nobody in and he didn’t believe me.

“He just leaned through the window and punched me in the face.

“It was a shock and I was scared of what he might do next. It was just an awful experience.

“It made me feel very vulnerable and a bit scared of going to work

“Aggression in the workplace happens a lot. People try and keep it quiet, and they don’t like to talk about it. It should never happen.”

Other actors in the short films have also experienced violence, including being held up against a wall by the neck and having a mug of coffee thrown at them, while others have witnessed colleagues being reduced to tears by abusive behaviour from patients.

Julie Gillon, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our staff are here to help. They are hardworking, committed and compassionate professionals. They are not here to receive verbal or physical abuse.

“They do everything in their power to help our patients and their families and they deserve to be safe while doing it.

“We have a zero-tolerance approach to violence and abuse towards our staff, or indeed anyone within out Trust. We will report all incidents to the police and will always push for the maximum punishment.”

According to a North Tees and Hartlepool staff survey 15.2% of staff within the Trust experienced violent or aggressive behaviour from patients or visitors.

An average of 200 reported physical assaults on NHS staff are reported every day.

Violence against staff has reached its highest level in five years, with one in seven health professionals attacked in the course of their work last year.

Further videos will be filmed and released in the coming weeks by the Trust to ensure that their message continues to be heard.

The videos were written, filmed and edited by the Trust’s Communications and Marketing team using Trust locations at no cost.

The short films feature the following Trust staff:

Gym scenario

  • Aggressive gym customer/grateful physiotherapy client – Jacqui Ritchie, clinical administrator
  • Shocked gym customer/physiotherapy client – Helen Hall, clinical administrator
  • Personal trainer/physiotherapist – Daniel Steel, physiotherapy assistant

Hairdressing scenario

  • Aggressive customer/grateful patient: Cath Simpson, healthcare assistant
  • Hairdresser/Nurse: Catherine Roberts, laboratory computer clerk

You can here – gym scene and hairdresser scene


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