Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said violence against NHS staff is “shocking” but body cameras and higher penalties are being brought in to dissuade people from being violent.
Mr Hancock told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “It is completely unacceptable that people would be violent towards NHS staff, somebody who is there to care for us all.
“We are having a strategy put in place today, and we have a new law that has just come into force that doubles the penalty if you are violent against a member of NHS staff.
“But, we are also bringing in now stronger links between the NHS and the police so that the presumption is that you will be prosecuted.
“Some members of staff in the NHS A&E wear body cameras to help get a prosecution but also put people off being violent in the first place.
“I want to see that being spread more widely.”
He added: “I have seen it myself in the middle of night in A&E where somebody comes in off the ambulances and they, or sometimes the people they are with, can become violent. It is shocking.”
A zero-tolerance approach
The Health Secretary is expected to outline a series of measures on Wednesday to tackle the rise in violence towards NHS staff.
The violence has risen to its highest level since 2013, with a recent staff survey showing 15% of employees have experienced violence in the last 12 months. Mr Hancock has set out the first NHS Violence Reduction Strategy to deal with it.
A new partnership between the NHS, police and the Crown Prosecution Service will lead to offenders being prosecuted quickly under a zero-tolerance approach, the Department for Health and Social Care said.
Staff will also be provided with better training on how to deal with violent situations.
This follows on from the Assaults of Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which called for the maximum prison sentence for assaulting an emergency worker to double from six months to a year.