South SPF event

Highlights from the South SPF event on partnership working to reduce violence and aggression against NHS staff.

17 November 2023

On 26 October 2023, the South East (SE) and South West (SW) SPFs came together in a hybrid event to discuss what could be achieved in partnership to reduce violence and aggression against staff. The event demonstrated the strengthening of relationships between partners to maximise opportunities for collaboration on this issue. 

SW SPF co-chairs Hannah Foster, chief people officer at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Mike Cracknell, regional organiser for UNISON led the day. As staff safety does not sit in isolation within people teams, attendees included chief people officers, chief nursing officers, heads of estates, staff security and local and regional trade union staff safety leads.


  • Alan Lofthouse, national officer at UNISON shared the national picture on reducing violence and aggression, referencing aims around sexual safety and support for staff experiencing domestic violence.
  • Anne Boynes, national lead at NHS England updated on training for violence prevention and reduction leads, and violence prevention and reduction resources in development.
  • Alison Hackett, regional lead for the SW; and Rebecca Tyrrell, regional lead for the SE reflected on regional plans to reduce violence and aggression and discussed experiences expressed through the staff survey on recruitment, retention, health and wellbeing. Delegates fed back on key issues and how the regional teams can best focus on the support available. 
  • Steven Weeks, policy manager at NHS Employers highlighted areas of the NHS staff survey data that indicate improvements have been made in reducing violence and aggression. 

Delegates had constructive discussions in small groups around interventions needed to support a reduction of violence and aggression against NHS staff. Key themes emerging included reporting, data, training, resources, and prevention. 

Employers and trade union colleagues were then encouraged to submit headlines of good practice examples of methods they have used to reduce violence and aggression. These examples supported a second conversation around what is possible to achieve in partnership at a national, regional, system and provider level. 

 “I liked talking to other [service] areas to see what they were experiencing and sharing learning” - an attendee's feedback on the event.

Around 94 per cent of delegates strongly agreed or agreed that the workshops enabled them to appreciate the value of positive partnership working and to consider what is possible to achieve in partnership to reduce violence and aggression. They found value in sharing best practice, and the content of the discussion informed and supported their thinking on the reduction of violence and aggression.

Next steps 

The South team will be hosting a follow up session in spring 2024, which will seek progress updates and encourage further sharing of good practice, including a health and safety executive perspective. Adoption of the UNISON Charter around reducing violence and aggression was proposed. Along with sharing, adapting and adopting best practice examples through a new resource hub for South members who are responsible for leading on violence and aggression in their organisations. 

For further information on the work in the South on tackling violence and aggression in the NHS please direct enquiries to the South team in NHS Employers.