Third of Scots NHS staff abused at work

  • Date: 07 February 2011

One in three healthcare workers in Scotland experienced verbal or emotional abuse in the last year, according to a new survey.

More than 42,000 staff took part in a poll designed to gauge their level of commitment to NHS Scotland. According to the findings, two-thirds of abuse incidents were carried out by patients' parents, relatives and members of the public.

Despite this, the majority of employees – 88 per cent – said they would be willing to go “the extra mile” at work when required and more than 70 per cent felt a sense of achievement from their work. The poll also highlighted 41 per cent of staff who said they faced unrealistic time pressures often or always during their work, while 41 per cent said they experienced this sometimes. Many also felt they were not consulted about work changes and that their ideas would not be listened to.

But the number of employees who would recommend their health board as “a good place to work” increased to 58 per cent last year – compared with 55 per cent in 2008 and 43 per cent in 2006.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "It is very concerning that staff have experienced verbal and emotional abuse and disappointing that two thirds of the incidents recorded were committed by patients' relatives and members of the public. It is utterly unacceptable that any member of the health service should be abused in the workplace.

"Of course, there are still areas where improvements could be made – the survey will allow us to spot these and do something about them."

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