Hospital brings in private security as A&E staff jeered by patients

Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital has 100 empty beds and is stressing they are very much o

There will be visible security overnight at the James Paget University Hospital's A&E department following a rise in staff abuse. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

A Norfolk hospital has employed private security following incidents of abuse from patients in the last few weeks.

The James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, confirmed it had become so concerned about aggression aimed at under-pressure staff it had engaged a security company to work overnight in A&E and at the main entrance.

It comes as "galling" figures revealed up to 45 staff a month were experiencing abuse from patients as demand for its services led to longer waits. 

A statement said: "The trust has engaged a security company to provide an additional presence overnight in our A&E waiting area and the main entrance.

"The move has been made to provide reassurance to our hard-working staff, following several incidents of abuse from members of the public over the last few weeks."

It is understood the incidents have been verbal including rudeness and sarcastic jeering and clapping which is said to be "upsetting and intimidating" for staff.

The trust has placed additional security in the A&E areas before but on an ad-hoc basis rather than a continuing presence in the evening.

A spokesman said as well as being in response to poor behaviour at a time when the hospital was very busy, the additional security freed-up some of its own in-house portering to help with tasks including patient transfers between departments and wards.

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At a meeting of the hospital's board of directors on July 30, it was reported that there were 45 cases of staff abuse in May, while cases dropped to 31 in June.

Over the past year, an average of 25 employees were abused a month.

At the time Teresa Budrey, eastern regional director for the Royal College of Nursing, said it was "a really difficult time for the A&E department."

Teresa Budrey, eastern regional director of the Royal College of Nursing. Picture: RCN

Teresa Budrey, eastern regional director of the Royal College of Nursing. Picture: RCN - Credit: Archant

She said: "We are aware that aggression from patients usually comes from the stress around waiting times, and there are long waiting times currently.

"We know that the increased waiting time is clearly bringing anxiety to patients and that is coming out as aggressive behaviour towards staff and that clearly is stressing staff.

"We know we need every staff member on shifts, but this added stress is creating more sickness within staff members."