Local people who think it’s acceptable to verbally or physically abuse NHS staff are to become the targets of a new campaign which highlights the hard hitting message that it’s never OK.
Healthcare workers often bear the brunt of emotive and high pressure situations, with many people believing that lashing out in the heat of the moment can often be justified.
The Never OK campaign, which launches publicly today, reminds patients, visitors and any other people in hospital that there are no circumstances in which abuse of NHS staff will be tolerated and that appropriate action will always be taken.
Since January, six people have appeared in court after their behaviour and conduct at the Great Western Hospital warranted police intervention.
Elsewhere, exclusion orders and injunctions have been placed on disruptive visitors who have caused upset to staff and other patients.
Nerissa Vaughan, Chief Executive, said: “This campaign is one that is very close to my heart as I all too often hear staff share their personal stories of abuse, all of which have left me shocked and angry.
“It is fundamentally wrong that the very people who have dedicated their lives to helping others should be on the receiving end of any kind of offensive language, intimidating behaviour or violent actions.
“I’ve seen firsthand how this complete lack of respect can affect people and, in some cases, it’s forced hard working people out of the NHS for good.
“I’m fully aware that the majority of patients would never dream of abusing a nurse, doctor or receptionist, but in this day and age there are still some people who do not know any better, which is why Never OK is so important.”
The results of the last NHS Staff Survey, which gauges feedback on a national scale, showed that one in three workers at the Great Western Hospital had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, their relatives or other visitors in the last 12 months.
It also revealed that one in ten staff at the Swindon hospital had been subject to physical violence from the people they were trying to care for.
As a result the Trust has stepped up measures to protect staff, with some teams now being issued with body cameras as part of their standard uniform.
Personal panic alarms are also given to the most exposed members of staff, such as those in the Emergency Department, while an in house security team patrol the hospital at all times of day and night.
It is hoped that through Never OK, healthcare workers will be able to come to work and do the job they love without fear of abuse or harassment.
Visitors to the hospital will be reminded of Never OK by a series of striking new posters which are on display in all wards, departments and public areas.
Local people are asked to support Never OK by getting involved with the #JustLike campaign on social media.
Simply use Twitter or Facebook to share something else that, just like abuse of NHS staff, is Never OK.
For example, “#JustLike stealing chips form someone else’s plate, abuse of NHS staff is Never OK” or “#JustLike peeing in a swimming pool, abuse of NHS staff is Never OK”.
Local people can pledge their support for the campaign on social media by following the Trust’s official accounts and using #NeverOK in their posts.