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Issue Date:- 10 November 2008


“I’ve been punched, kicked and spat at – just last month one of the crew had a knife pulled on him”. “The A&E department on a Saturday night is a nightmare to work in – I just dread it.” These alarming accounts from a paramedic and a nurse in A&E are becoming increasingly common warned UNISON, the UK’s largest health union.

UNISON is calling for tough action to cut down on violence, following statistics released on 5 November from the NHS Security Management Services, showing that 55,993 NHS staff were physically assaulted in England in 2007/8; that’s 284 more than the previous year.

Stephanie Thomas, UNISON North West Head of Health, said:- “The catalogue of assaults is shameful. What sort of injury do we have to wait for before tough action is taken against violent offenders?

Health care workers are four times more likely to be the victims of assault than any other workers

I fear that the all night drinking culture and a lack of respect is fuelling violence against dedicated NHS paramedics, nurses and health staff who need to be given the protection they deserve.

Zero tolerance should mean zero tolerance. 

It is terrifying for both patients and staff to be embroiled in the sort of violence and aggression that goes on in city centre A&E departments on an average Saturday night.

Despite the best efforts of the Security Management Service the level of prosecutions is pitifully low.

UNISON would like to see the number of prosecutions doubled and tough penalties meted out to those found guilty of assault.

Many of these assaults are preventable and the NHS needs to look at a raft of measures and new ways of working to protect staff.

In some places that might mean more police and security staff working in A&E, in others staff training, more CCTV, alarms, better co-ordination between police and ambulance staff, flagging up dangerous areas or building safety features into hospitals and wards.”

Home workers shouldn’t be content with home insurance

HOME businesses like eBAY trading are set to boom as cash-strapped Brits look for secondary incomes to make ends meet, but nearly 1 million home-workers are unwittingly putting themselves at severe financial risk by wrongly believing their businesses are covered by existing home-contents policies.

Research from online insurance provider found 45% of Britain’s 2.1 million home-workers fail to get any business insurance at all, risking loss of livelihood, heavy fines and crippling legal fees if things go wrong.  Nearly 1,400 home businesses launch every week with the credit crunch tipped to spur further growth in the sector. Sites like eBAY have spawned a generation of more than 180,000 ‘eBAYpreneurs’ in the UK, who use the internet either as a primary or secondary source of income.

James Pickering, managing director of, said:- “In the current economic climate setting up a home business can offer individuals or families a great way to supplement their income and cope with rising costs, but it’s dangerous to think that the process is simply a matter of getting a laptop and an internet connection. The reality is that, from an insurance perspective at least, home business owners face exactly the same risks as any other businesses.”

In a recent survey, found home-workers are the least likely of any sector to have insurance. Many home business owners wrongly believe their home contents insurance provides the cover they need, when in reality most standard home insurance policies exclude any business activity run from home. With many eBAY entrepreneurs using equipment and keeping stock in a spare room at home, losses can quickly become crippling if disaster strikes. A home insurer may even have the right to turn a significant claim down such as theft, damage or arson as a result of running a business from home. also believes many online traders are unaware of their obligation to protect customers under legislation such as the sale of goods act. A significant number fail to take out product liability insurance, which could safeguard them from legal action or loss of revenue in the event a customer is injured or their property damaged.

James Pickering said:- “There’s definitely a good deal of confusion surrounding the responsibility that business owners have to deliver goods that are both fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. Ultimately the buck could stop with the seller, so businesses trading on eBAY need protection to prevent financial penalties and even legal action if the goods they are selling turn out to be faulty, or worse, dangerous.”

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