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Health and care partners in Sussex have today made a pledge to support and protect our workforce from violence and abuse.

Health and care partners identified supporting and developing the local workforce as one of their top priorities earlier this year; and today, a new strategy has been published which sets out how they are going to protect and support the workforce which drives and delivers Sussex’s health and care services.

Violence and abuse can take many forms, from physical and verbal abuse, harassment, bullying to threats of violence, and can be from services users, members of the public or colleagues.

Together, health and care leaders want to take a proactive approach by understanding the main causes of violence and abuse and looking at how they can be prevented – not just responding once it has happened. However, we will continue to deal with incidents as they occur, as well as understanding the root-causes of why some people are violent or abusive.

Key areas set out in the new Sussex Violence Prevention and Reduction Strategy include:

  • implementing the NHS VPR Standard - a national set of criteria and activities that NHS organisations are required to implement to help them to prevent and reduce the number of incidents of violence and abuse towards the workforce
  • each Sussex partner organisation to develop action plans that reflects local need
  • collect and analyse available data to enable to organisations to gain greater insight into the challenges posed by violence and abuse towards the workforce
  • understand why violence occurs, the risk factors that influence the likelihood of these incidents occurring and what factors can support preventing incidents from occurring
  • identify how a trauma-informed approach can support the overall aims of preventing violence and abuse by understanding people’s experiences and demographics which may influence how they react to stimuli and situations
  • consider how we create more compassionate and inclusive environments for our workforce and the people that we serve
  • establish dedicated violence prevention and reduction resources to support our efforts
  • encourage members of the workforce to report incidents
  • develop a staff training programme, to help our workforce in preventing and reducing the likelihood of incidents

Mark Smith, Chief People Officer at NHS Sussex, said: “The growing demand for NHS, and other health and care services, and how these services are delivered, is changing.

Key to delivering these services are our people, who make-up a workforce that is under pressure, and that is, unfortunately, sometimes the victim of violence or abuse. We know the significant impact abuse, harassment, and violence has on individuals, teams, organisations, and the whole of the health and care sector, and we are clear that no-one should work fearing that they may be subject to violence or abuse.

Now is the time where the delivery of health and care services needs bold and innovative leadership; to be curious and to view the challenges we face from new perspectives.

As the NHS nears the celebrations of its 75th anniversary, the Sussex strategy to the prevention and reduction of violence and abuse towards NHS and other health and care staff epitomises the values and principles set out in the NHS Constitution; all of which is embodied in a pioneering, collaborative approach fit for the 21st century.”