April 28, 2012

Demands for victims of workplace violence, working in the emergency services, to be compensated by offenders 

Scotsman.com reports that the Royal College of Nurses and Fire Brigades Union are both calling for 'restitution orders' to be widened to cover their members and are urging ministers to do more to stop the attacks happening in the first place.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has said offenders should be made to pay into charities that help injured police officers get back to work. However, the proposals are limited to police and do not cover paramedics, nurses, firefighters and others who are injured in the line of duty.

Ellen Hudson, associate director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said: “If restitution orders are to be introduced for one section of the public sector workforce who may be subject to violence in the workplace, it seems only fair that they should be introduced for the rest of the public sector, including nurses and healthcare assistants.”

The FBU said firefighters see physical and verbal abuse as almost “part and parcel” of their job and rarely report it. John Duffy, Scottish secretary of the FBU, said: “We do have the Emergency Workers Act, which is an extremely useful piece of legislation, but grossly under-used.

“We get verbal and physical abuse, things thrown at us. But rather than go to court we would rather reduce the number of offences happening in the first place. It’s got to be about how we engage in the communities we work in. If you get to the point where you have to punish people in court, it’s effectively too late.”

Fire crews are 'easy targets' for attacks

The FBU report Easy Targets states that "there are more than 2,000 attacks on fire crews every year, over 40 a week or six a day. However under-reporting is rife and FBU representatives estimate that the figure is at least twice as high – and quite possibly far higher than that".

Mental Health nurses and Paramedics are most at risk

The 2011 survey of 134,967 NHS staff suggests staff in mental health and ambulance trusts are at the greatest risk of workplace violence amongst all NHS staff.

An RCN survey 2011 showed that 60% of nurses surveyed have been subjected to abuse in the past two years while working in the community.