UNISON survey also shows 70% of healthcare assistants have been victims of violence and aggression

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More than 70% of healthcare assistants have been the victim of aggression and violence at work, a new survey from UNISON has revealed.

The survey of nearly 1,200 healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners revealed that 13% of those who had been the victim of violence at work had been threatened with a weapon, while nearly a fifth had been the victim of an assault that required medical assistance or first aid.

The survey paints a shocking picture of the reality of work for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners in today’s NHS, with more than 40% of respondents saying that they had considered leaving their profession either fairly or very seriously over the last year.

The results shine a harsh light on the problems facing the NHS as a result of government cuts, with more than 85% saying they felt staffing levels had become insufficient over the last year. Only 11% believed that staffing levels were adequate in their clinical area.

Commenting on the survey, Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health said: “This survey illustrates the sometimes grim reality for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners, whose already challenging job is made harder by inadequate staffing and the threat of aggression and violence.

“HCAs and APs provide a fundamental care to some of the most vulnerable patients, yet what we are seeing is that they do not feel valued by their employers, and even less so by the government, whose cuts agenda is placing them, and professionals across the health service, under enormous pressure.

“When four in ten HCAs are considering leaving the profession, something is very wrong. This survey is demonstrating the real impact of government cuts – demoralised staff who are trying to deliver the best possible care they can in ever more difficult circumstances.

“It is time for the government to think again about the damage that its demand for £20bn in so called ‘efficiency savings’ is having on the NHS.  Cuts aren’t working, and if these vital professionals are depleted even more, the impact on patient care will be enormous.”

Healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners play a vital role in healthcare delivery, yet only 2.1% said they felt the government respected their role, a stark contrast to the almost 80% who said that patients valued their work.

More than 80% of those who responded said they believed that HCAs should be regulated in the same way as other healthcare professionals such as nurses, to protect patients, ensure high standards and maintain skills.

The survey coincides with UNISON’s annual Healthcare Assistant Seminar in Glasgow, which will look at the current debates and hot issues affecting Healthcare Assistants in today’s healthcare environment, including regulation, role design and best practice.


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