Staff survey results from a London Trust have revealed that gay or lesbian staff are more than twice as likely to be involved in violent encounters than other staff members.
The NHS Staff Survey is conducted ever year and is the largest survey of staff opinion in the UK.
It aims to assess staff experience in various areas and helps to demonstrate overall NHS performance levels, to help organisations understand areas they may need to focus on.
The 2020 NHS Staff Survey results from Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust show that in the last five years, there has been a decrease in the amount of harassment, bullying or abuse that staff have been involved with, from patients/service users, their relatives or other members of the public.
The overall results from the Trust’s staff are relatively low when you compare them to the physical and verbal abuse that gay or lesbian staff have received over the past five years.
The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust provide NHS services throughout a person’s life and one method of support they provide in Camden is community health services.
When comparing the 2020 results of overall staff to that of lesbian or gay staff, there are some shocking revelations.
Their results show that the percentage of gay or lesbian staff who have experienced at least one incident of physical violence from patients etc. is nearly 10% higher than that of the overall staff results.
The overall results show there was a slight increase of physical violence from 2016-2017 and 2018-2019 but overall, the result from 2016 and 2020 has remained at 8%.
Emma Goldsmith is an LGBT, NHS staff member and has been since August 2020.
She is currently working as a clinical nurse specialist for the North Camden Crisis Team.
Fortunately, Emma explained that she hasn’t experienced any physical violence from patients/service users, their relatives or other members of the public since being in the crisis team, but has in the past: “I did experience some whilst working on the wards, as service users tend to be more unwell.”
“I think what is happening is the world tends to have a big impact on people mentally.”
Emma Goldsmith, North London
Emma explained that she wasn’t surprised by these results but described why she thought this might be: “I think what is happening in the world tends to have a big impact on people mentally.”
“The pandemic caused a huge increase in the number of people affected by mental health illnesses, which overall increases the amount of aggression towards staff.”
“Personally, I saw a large increase in the number of relapses of bipolar and schizophrenic patients, which can cause people to become incredibly unwell.”
The Talking Therapies services across North West London Health and Care Partnership are launching a campaign to remind local residents that mental health services are open and here for them during the pandemic and beyond.
Find out more: https://t.co/HydYjq7ZT7
— CNWL NHS FT (@CNWLNHS) April 26, 2021
The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust results of personal harassment, bullying or abuse on gay or lesbian staff from patients/service users etc. has also seen a rise in the last five years and this increase is over 5% in the last year.
Emma describes that she experiences verbal abuse often but does not believe it is ever connected to her sexuality: “It wouldn’t be uncommon to experience some sort of verbal abuse, whether this be in person or over the phone.”
“I work in the crisis call centre as part of my role and find that service users and relatives tend to be more verbally abusive over the phone than face to face.”
She explained that much like the physical violence results, she believes the increase is a result of the impact the pandemic has had on people and their emotions.
It is hard to experience physical or verbal abuse in the workplace but there is also a complication of reporting it.
Emma says that there is support for NHS staff around the topic of violence but she believes it would be useful if nurses were offered therapy: “Staff receive training on de-escalation, breakaway techniques and how to manage violence and aggression.”
“We have weekly reflective case sessions where we are able to discuss specific service users which may be particularly complex or we have found difficult.”
The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust results highlight that people are more likely to report a case of physical violence than they are harassment, bullying or abuse.
The clinical nurse specialist described her thoughts on reporting violence: “I would report it to my manager immediately and, if I felt it necessary, I would complete an incident form in order for the incident to be logged.”
“I may bring this up in the weekly case discussion and would review the incident and how I managed it in supervision with my manager.”
The results for the CNWLNHSFT show a rise in physical and verbal abuse by patients/service users, their relatives or other members of the public on gay or lesbian staff and measures should be put in place so that the next survey results see a drop.