Does Morecambe Bay’s health trust really have the most attacks on staff outside London?

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More than 1,000 incidents of violence towards NHS staff in Morecambe Bay have been recorded over the last five years.

Of these, 391 resulted in physical injuries, and the police were called out 156 times.

In its website article “STABBED IN HOSPITAL: Knife thugs have terrorised 440 hospital workers in the past five years” this week, The Sun claimed that this places University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust (UHMBT) second only to London in relation to the number of assaults on staff.

However, it is not clear how many trusts responded to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from The Sun, and how those trusts, particularly those in big cities, record incidents of violence or assault.

The Sun’s story focused mainly on knife crime in hospitals, but Dan Willis, local security management specialist for UHMBT said that no members of staff were injured in a knife attack in the last five years.

Of the 391 incidents recorded at UHMBT, 389 were caused by patients and two were by members of the public.

Mr Willis said: “In the last five years, the total number of incidences of violence was 1,211 and police were called out 156 times.

“While we take all assaults against members of our staff very seriously, it is true that sometimes the medical condition of the patient, or the treatment we have given that patient, may contribute to their behaviour, and we judge each incident on its merits.

“The safety of our patients and staff is of the utmost importance to us and we have stringent reporting processes.

“Everyone has the right to work in a safe and secure environment and if any of our staff feel threatened by anyone whilst at work, we actively encourage them to report it.

“We work hard to ensure colleagues understand they shouldn’t tolerate any threatening behaviour towards them; our staff are now reporting incidents that they may have previously seen as ‘just part of the job’.

“We also take a proactive approach in working with other local agencies, such as the police, to actively seek sanctions against those committing crimes against our staff.

“Our colleagues treat people and save lives each and every day and we will continue to take action against those who threaten them, and continue to ensure they feel safe at all times.”

The Sun claimed that: “Worst outside London for violent incidents is Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust — location for ITV crime drama The Bay — where there were almost 1,200 attacks 
on staff, with 391 causing injury.”

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris was quoted immediately after this in the story saying: “It is disgraceful that doctors and nurses who do so much to deal with injuries caused by knife crime are at risk of becoming victims themselves.”

But after being contacted by the Lancaster Guardian, Mr Morris said: “The quote in the Sun was given in response to knife crime in general and I told The Sun that their data regarding violent incidents at UMBHT were not in 
relation to knife crime which has now been confirmed by the Trust.

“Our NHS staff locally do a fantastic job and none of them should be at risk of any harm whilst carrying out their job, one assault on staff is an assault too many as far as I am concerned.”