NHS Hospitals Will Soon Be Able To Refuse Non-Emergency Care To Racist Or Sexist Patients

A survey by NHS England has found that reports of racism and sexism against NHS staff were at their highest levels in 2019.

stressed doctor

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

NHS England has released new plans to ban patients who exhibit discriminatory or harassing behaviour on staff from receiving non-emergency care. Previously, NHS organisations could only refuse services if they were physically violent or aggressive to staff.

The ban follows a national NHS staff survey for England, which found that more than a quarter of NHS workers have been bullied, harassed or abused in the last year. Four in 10 felt unwell due to work-related stress, and one in seven had been physically attacked.

The study, which polled near 570,000 staff, found staff in ambulance trusts and mental health or learning disability trusts were the most affected by abuse and violence. For those NHS staff who have frequent face-to-face contact with service users, 37% experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients, their relatives or other members of the public.

Racism was the most common form of discrimination against staff, with reports of sexism and intolerance of religion and sexuality also at their highest levels in 2019.

‘There is far too much violence against NHS staff, and too much acceptance that it’s part of the job,’ health secretary Matt Hancock said in a letter to all NHS staff. ‘Far too often I hear stories that the people you are trying to help lash out. I’ve seen it for myself in A&Es, on night shifts, and on ambulances. I am horrified that any member of the public would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often.’

Stating that the NHS was now working with the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to form an agreement on offences against emergency workers, Hancock said it will provide ‘a framework to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of cases where staff are the victim of a crime’

Asking staff to report ‘every incident and act of abuse or violence’, he affirmed ‘no act of violence or abuse is minor’.

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