- New rules come in to place in April allowing NHS staff to refuse non-emergency care.
Britain’s National Health Service can refuse to treat people who are homophobic, racist or sexist from April.
The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock wrote to all NHS staff yesterday to announce the new rules.
They allow staff to turn away non-emergency patients. They can already refuse to treat non-critical patients who threaten them or physically attack them.
But now they will also be able to refuse care to patients who bully or harass them or making homophobic, sexist or racist comments.
‘Being assaulted or abused is not part of the job’
In his letter Hancock told NHS staff ‘no act of violence or abuse is minor’.
And he added: ‘Being assaulted or abused is not part of the job.
‘Far too often I hear stories that the people you are trying to help lash out. I’ve seen it for myself in A&Es [emergency departments], on night shifts, and on ambulances.
‘I am horrified that any member of the public would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often.’
In addition, he outlined a new agreement with police and the Crown Prosecution Service. It gives police more powers to investigate and prosecute when NHS staff are the victim of a crime.
Hancock added: ‘All assault and hate crimes against NHS staff must be investigated with care, compassion, diligence and commitment.’
The health secretary made the announcement as the 2019 NHS Staff Survey for England came out. The survey of 569,000 staff showed over a quarter of NHS workers had suffered bullying, harassment or abuse in a year.
Staff at ambulance, mental health and learning disability trusts were most likely to encounter abuse and violence.
Past research by campaign organization Stonewall has shown that LGBT+ NHS staff encounter additional hostility and discrimination at work. Many hide who they are from their colleagues.