CUTS to mental health services are leading to huge numbers of violent attacks on staff, Unison warned yesterday.
The public-sector union quizzed 1,000 mental health employees for a report entitled Struggling to Cope, which paints a bleak picture of the state of Britain’s mental health services for both staff and users.
Among the damning statistics, 42 per cent of staff said they had been on the receiving end of violent attacks in the last year and 36 per cent said they had seen patients attacking their colleagues.
A further 36 per cent said they had witnessed an increase in violent incidents in the past year.
One worker described being “repeatedly punched to the floor,” while others spoke of “attempted strangulation” or being head-butted, spat on, kicked and bitten.
Staff warned that service users were increasingly reaching crisis point before accessing services because of a lack of staff, funding and beds, with more employees forced to work alone.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “These findings highlight a range of deep-rooted issues in mental health services that need to be addressed urgently.
“The lack of prevention and absence of early intervention services mean that by the time many people access help, they are already very ill and at crisis point.
“Severe staff shortages mean there are fewer mental health employees to deal with a rising number of users with complex needs.
“As a result, many staff are having to work alone, making violent attacks more likely.
“It’s no wonder so many are planning on leaving for less stressful, safer work elsewhere.”