Published on 23 September 2021
Hospital staff have launched a hard-hitting poster campaign underlining their zero-tolerance approach to abuse.
Medical staff and their children feature in the posters, which are on display in the emergency departments at the William Harvey Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.
They include messages such as ‘My daddy is a nurse, please keep him safe at work’ as well as ‘No excuse for abuse’, alongside a photo showing the injuries caused by physical assault.
Joanna Williams, deputy head of nursing for Urgent and Emergency Care at East Kent Hospitals, who features in the posters alongside her children, said staff deserved to be able to do their jobs without fear of attack.
She said: “Most of our patients are fantastic and are polite and appreciative of the care we give but there is a small minority who can be very unpleasant indeed.
“Sadly, I think everyone in the team has a tale of experiencing or witnessing abuse, whether it is someone shouting at reception staff because they have to wait while we treat more urgent patients, or swearing at medical teams who are trying to treat them.
“There are even people who become physically violent, leading to staff being injured.
“We all come to work to try and help people and it is completely unacceptable that we should face intimidation or assault while doing so.”
The team work closely with Kent Police to identify and prosecute offenders, and recently a man who attacked staff and destroyed medical equipment at the William Harvey Hospital was given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Persistent offenders also face sanction under the Trust’s own procedures, which include giving someone a yellow card warning after an incident. This involves a formal written warning alerting them to the consequences of their behaviour – which in the case of repeated offenders or those who are violent can mean they are banned from all Trust sites unless they need emergency, life-saving treatment.
The zero-tolerance policy applies to patients, visitors and relatives in all the hospitals operated by the Trust.