NHS leaders across London have come together to show solidarity against rising levels of violence and aggression by patients towards NHS staff and colleagues.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Group Chief Executive of St George’s, Epsom and St Helier Hospitals and Health Group, joined other health leaders in London in signing an open letter thanking the majority of patients who show support to NHS staff but also advising that violence and aggression will not be tolerated.

The letter was published on Monday (21 March), the same day that London’s health leaders came together with colleagues from across the city’s NHS at a summit (pictured) to discuss potential reasons for the abuse and share preventative measures, as well as show solidarity in supporting all those affected.

Jacqueline Totterdell, Group Chief Executive Officer of St George’s, Epsom and St Helier Hospitals and Health Group, said:

“Everyone deserves to come to work and be treated with dignity and respect, and that is why at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier Hospitals we are backing the message that violence towards our staff will not be tolerated.”

“I would like to thank the majority of patients and visitors to our hospitals who are polite and respectful to staff, your kindness is always well received and appreciated. It is the actions of a small, but rising, group of people that needs to be challenged.”

Jane Clegg, Regional Chief Nurse for the NHS in London said:

“It is unacceptable that staff and colleagues working in London’s NHS are facing high levels of violence and aggression from some patients and visitors while simply doing their job.

“That is why I am delighted our city’s NHS leaders have united in sending a strong sign of our commitment to protect and support all those who give so much to care for us in times of need.”

The latest published NHS Staff Survey results (2019-20) show 16,113 NHS staff in London reported that they had personally experienced physical violence at work from patients or members of the public at least once in the previous 12 months. It is thought that the number of instances has increased more recently.

It is also believed that many more incidents go unreported, with staff either not fully understanding their rights or accepting violence and aggression as ‘part of the job’.

Reports of violence and aggression come from staff working across all areas of London’s NHS, from Emergency Departments to GP practices including homes and community centres, and in all boroughs.