AN Eastville surgery had to close to the public for more than three weeks after an attack that left the main reception area covered in broken glass.
Windows were broken and a glass partition on the landing overlooking the waiting area at East Trees Health Centre on Fishponds Road was shattered, raining clumps of safety glass and metal hand rails down on the seats more than 10ft below.
The incident happened on December 21, just a week after the local NHS integrated care board had launched a campaign raising awareness of harassment and abuse of health workers.
A 34-year-old man was arrested and charged with criminal damage, possession of an offensive weapon and using threatening words and behaviour after the incident, and later released on bail.
The health centre reopened on January 15 but there were still restrictions on using the first floor, where the screens and handrails had guarded the drop to the ground floor below.
A spokesperson for the practice said: “East Trees Medical Centre is open to the public and patients can now access the building via the front doors, as usual.
“However, there is restricted access to some areas of the practice. We are asking patients to kindly wait downstairs, if their appointment is on the first floor, and wait to be escorted to their appointments.
“Repair works continue to be carried out. Further updates will be provided on our website.”
‘Unacceptable’ levels of violence and abuse towards NHS staff
NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB launched an awareness campaign in December after a survey found a quarter of staff had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse and one in ten had experienced physical violence at work from patients or other members of the public over the past four years.
ICB chief nursing officer Rosi Shepherd said: “We know that the vast majority of people who use local services are kind and respectful when interacting with staff, but the continued high number of incidents is unacceptable.”
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the city centre hospitals, recorded 479 incidents of verbal abuse and 319 of physical abuse towards staff between April and December last year.
Health centre staff quit
Elsewhere in Bristol, abuse of front-line staff at Horfield Health Centre led to a third of ‘care navigators’, who take calls and book appointments, quitting – adding to delays and frustration for patients.
Executive partner Peter Maynard said: “We know people want care as soon as possible and can get frustrated, but while one person’s snide comment may not seem much by itself, when that is happening 100 times in a working day, it adds up to a lot of angst to take home with you and come back in the following day with.”