Hospital staff and police officers stress ‘zero tolerance’ to abuse

Hospital and police bosses have this week stressed they have a zero tolerance policy on abuse against members of staff.

It follows news that a doctor working at St Richard’s Hospital was allegedly subject to racist abuse on Saturday, February 23.

Sixty-year-old Gail Heath, from The Green, Chichester, has been charged with an alleged racially aggravated public order offence, police have said. Heath is due to appear at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on March 26. Read more here

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According to the hospital, similar cases are not common when compared with the amount of treatments carried out.

Emergency services

Gethin Hughes, director of operations (medicine) at Western Sussex Hospital NHS foundation Trust said: “We have a zero tolerance approach to all types of abuse and we encourage and support staff to report such incidents so we can do everything we can to protect them as well as sanction those responsible.

“Thankfully such cases are rare compared to the hundreds of thousands of treatments and appointments we provide every year.”

On the same Saturday, another woman was arrested for ‘multiple offences’ according to PC Tom Van Der Wee. He said the alleged shoplifter spat in a security officer’s face, attempted to spit on and kick ambulance staff, was verbally abusive to nurses, and assaulted the arresting officer. Read our full story on that here

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Our officers and staff find themselves in a wide variety of often unpredictable and fast moving situations along with other emergency service workers.

St Richard's Hospital, Chichester. Picture from Google Maps

“We do not believe that any form of assault is acceptable and should never be viewed as part of the job.

“We don’t tolerate violence against anyone in Sussex including our own officers and staff and are robust in pursuing the offenders and bringing them to justice.

“Assaults can range from being spat at, to verbal abuse, and on to those that result in minor or more serious physical injury.”

In a national survey of NHS employees, figures show how Western Sussex Hospital Trust, of which St Richard’s is a part, staff feel their workplace is marginally less of a safe environment from violence when compared with the national average.