Violence reduction

The national SPF is focusing on work aimed at preventing and reducing violence against NHS staff.

24 October 2022

The 2021 NHS Staff Survey found that:

  • Almost one in seven (14.3 per cent) of all staff responding to the survey said they had experienced at least one incident of physical violence from patients, service users, their relatives or other members of the public in the last 12 months.
  • Staff within ambulance trusts continue to report the highest levels of violence.
  • On average, 27.5 per cent of staff responding to the survey experienced at least one incident of harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, service users, their relatives or other members of the public in the last 12 months. This represents a slight increase relative to levels reported in 2020 (26.8 per cent) but remains lower than levels in 2018/2019 (28.7 per cent).
  • There has been a slight decline in reporting of violence overall at work, with 71.4 per cent of staff surveyed reporting violence in 2021 compared to 72.2 per cent in 2020.

The SPF set up the Violence Reduction Subgroup in 2019 to help prevent and reduce violence to our NHS people, creating a culture of safety to ensure our people are supported, safe and secure at work.

Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard & Guidance notes

In January 2021, NHSE published the national Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard, which complements existing health and safety legislation.

Employers (including NHS employers) have a general duty of care to protect staff from threats and violence at work. The Standard delivers a risk-based framework that supports a safe and secure working environment for NHS staff, safeguarding them against abuse, aggression, and violence. 

The Standard was developed in partnership with the national SPF. It was endorsed by the SPF on 15 December 2020.

You can read the NHS Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard on NHSE’s website.

Guidance notes to be used in conjunction with the NHS Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard to support implementation were published in June 2022 on NHSE's website.