Hospital staff 'made thousands of 999 calls' to police in five years

Police have been called to healthcare facilities nearly 10,000 times in the past five years, an FOI revealed.

Hospital staff ‘made thousands of 999 calls’ to police in five years iStock

Police have been called to healthcare facilities nearly 10,000 times in the past five years, new figures have shown.

Almost 4,000 of those call-outs were for for instances of violence, a freedom of information request revealed.

The research found the vast majority of 999 calls came from major hospitals.

But some were recorded at health centres and pharmacies within towns and villages, and there were even a handful of cases where NHS staff attending patients’ homes were forced to call for police support.

The numbers, released to 1919 Magazine, showed that 9,520 calls were made by medical staff in 2022, with at least 3,830 for instances of violence.

The total figure is believed to be higher, with some health boards – including larger ones such as NHS Lothian and NHS Lanarkshire – not providing the information.

The highest number of calls were seen in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area – the largest in the country by population – with 4,422 calls between 2018 and February of this year, 2,318 of which were as a result of violence.

The annual figures have fluctuated, with last year’s 1,736 cases a reduction from 2021 when there were 1,925 call-outs.

Norman Provan, associate director for the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland said the figures were “extremely worrying”.

“The increasing demands and staff shortages are piling the pressure onto nursing teams who are doing their best in very challenging circumstances,” he said.

“They should not have to put up with verbal or physical assaults.

“All health boards have a duty of care to protect their staff from attack and we encourage members who experience any type of aggression or violence to report it.”

David Threadgold, chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “While Police Scotland will always try and respond to all 999 calls, the data shows that the situation across the NHS estate – even without returns from large NHS authorities – is becoming unsustainable from a policing perspective.

“Colleagues from the Royal College of Nursing highlight ‘increasing demands and staff shortages’ and Police Scotland is no different.”

He said the force was consulting internally to reduce officer numbers across the country, and said the impact would be felt across the NHS.

Scottish Conservative North East MSP Maurice Golden said some areas of the country need more support in cracking down on this behaviour than others.

He said: “It’s understandable that police should be required to attend major settings like hospitals every now and then.

“But for thousands of instances to have been recorded in the last five years is alarming, and shows just what hardworking NHS staff are up against.

“It’s clear that the behaviour of some patients who need hospital care is totally unacceptable.”

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