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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-14-10

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page

 

Cuts to mental health leave staff facing violence and aggression in the North West

REDUCED funding to mental health services across the UK and in the North West is leaving staff vulnerable to violence and aggression from patients, and means they cannot provide the level of care needed, according to UNISON. The report, Struggling to Cope, paints a bleak picture of the country's mental health services; for both staff and users. It is based on a survey of over 1,000 mental health employees across the UK, and 141 who answered worked in the North West. They work in a range of roles; with children and adults in Hospitals, in secure units and out in the community.

UNISON told the media this week that they found out the:- "52% said they had been on the receiving end of violent attacks in the last year. 45% said they had witnessed violent incidents involving patients attacking their colleagues."  Comments from some staff given to the Trade Union suggest that:- "violent or aggressive incidents happen on a daily basis", and that they "go with the job."

1 worker described to UNISON they the worker had been:- "repeatedly punched to the floor", while others spoke of "attempted strangulation," or being head butted, spat on, kicked and bitten. "While the majority (89%) felt they had the knowledge and training to carry out their work safely, 38% said they had seen an increase in violent incidents in 2017. Mental health workers blamed staff shortages (85%) and the overuse of agency staff (46%) as the main reasons behind the rise in violent attacks. 62% felt that service users were increasingly reaching crisis point before accessing services because of a lack of staff, funding and beds. Worryingly, cuts also mean that 39% of staff are now having to work alone (when they did not previously), making them more at risk of being abused..." a representative from UNISON commented.

the report went on to say that:- "60% of staff responding felt they were unable to support the people that they care for properly, and almost all (93%) reported feeling stressed because of their work."

UNISON also added that the survey also reveals that 22% of the mental health staff questioned did not report violent incidents when they happened. Of those that did, 49% did not feel supported by their managers afterwards.

UNISON says:- "It's hardly surprising that 30% are thinking about leaving their jobs in mental health, and 17% are actively planning on doing so." Adding that:- "The main reasons cited by staff were the impact of their work on their own mental health and well being (33%), the fact that they'd not had a decent pay rise for 7 years (22%), and the poor state of the mental health sector (17%)."

UNISON North West lead for health Amy Barringer said:- "These findings highlight a range of deep rooted issues in mental health services that need to be addressed urgently.  The lack of prevention and absence of early intervention services mean that by the time many people access help, they are already very ill and at crisis point.  Severe staff shortages mean there are fewer mental health employees to deal with a rising number of users with complex needs. As a result, many staff are having to work alone, making violent attacks more likely. It's no wonder so many are planning on leaving for less stressful, safer work elsewhere."

Last year, NHS England's 5 Year Forward View, on mental health said there was a need for a:- "strengthened approach to prevention and early intervention," and "good practice in the management of mental health in the workplace" to support staff. UNISON's survey suggests this is still not happening.

UNISON is calling on the Government to ensure staff and patients are kept safe by properly funding mental health services, and that staffing levels are properly reviewed with the introduction of safe minimum patient to staff ratios.  Do you work within this field or have any of these issues affected you or anyone you know. We would like to hear from you and also if you would like us to forward any information on to UNISON in relation to this issue, please send us an email:- News24@SouthportReporter.com and let us know.

 

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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder


  


 

 

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