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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Violent patients face ban as east London NHS staff wear bodycams to combat rise in assaults

An east London hospitals trust is introducing new rules that will make it easier to ban abusive patients from using its services.

The move by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHR Hospitals) comes as violence against its staff has more than doubled in three years.

The shocking rise has seen staff subjected to threats against their lives, and shocking racist taunts.Staff have also been physically abused, with one female staff member punched in the stomach so hard she fell to the floor, and a security guard suffering broken teeth after being kicked in the jaw by a patient.

The trust - which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Ilford - is now making it easier for staff to ‘red card’ or ban abusive patients from its hospitals, when clinically safe to do so.

Nurse Yvonne Ihekwoakba was punched in the stomach by a patient (BHR Hospitals Trust press release:

Under the existing, more complicated rules, only one patient has been banned in this way in the past five years, says the trust.

BHR Hospitals is also introducing 60 new body-worn video cameras, which will be worn by staff in its A&E and frailty units.

It says it is also “improving our training and increasing the visibility of security officers to provide support”.

In January alone there were 75 incidents of violence and aggression against staff and patients at BHR Hospitals - more than twice as many as in January 2021, when 36 such incidents were recorded.

The trust said an annual staff survey also shows violence is on the rise.

Security officer Mohammed Islam’s teeth were broken when he was kicked in the jaw by a patient (BHR Hospitals Trust press release:

“This year’s survey showed 14.5 per cent of our workforce have experienced violence and aggression from those they are caring for,” said a spokesperson.

Recalling her experience of being physically abused while working at the trust, Nurse Yvonne Ihekwoakba said: “My patient was verbally abusive when I offered him his medication. I tried to calm him down.

“The next thing I knew I was punched in my stomach and landed on the floor. I was in A&E for several hours.”

Security officer Mohammed Islam said: “I tripped taking a patient back to his room and he kicked me in the jaw.

“He broke my teeth, and I was bleeding. I found it challenging, both physically and mentally, to come back to work again.”

Theo Kayode-Osiyemi was subjected to racist abuse while working at the trust (BHR Hospitals Trust press release:

Theo Kayode-Osiyemi, from the trust’s appointments team, said: “I have often been abused racially and called names that are not pleasant to hear or repeat. One day I was told to go to the jungle where I belong.”

All three have shared their experiences as part of a ‘no abuse, no excuse’ campaign BHR Hospitals has launched to crack down on violence and aggression.

Many other staff and medics feature in the photo-led campaign, including a security officer named Sabih whose fingers were broken by a patient, a nurse named Jevita who was punched in the face as she took a patient’s blood pressure, and a matron named Lisa who was verbally abused by a patient’s relative, who threatened to punch her.

Chief executive Matthew Trainer said: “Our staff should not be shouted at, hit, or subjected to racist abuse while doing their job. It’s happening more and more often to colleagues in our hospitals, and we are taking action to respond to their concerns.

“Our message couldn’t be simpler: no abuse, no excuse.”

The campaign comes as separate figures show violence against ambulance crews in London has soared by 40 per cent in the past year with an average of two emergency workers kicked, punched or spat at every day.

Londoners were urged to treat frontline medics "with kindness and respect" after the data emerged earlier this month.

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