Assaults on health professionals increase by 32% in the midst of a pandemic

The Ministry of the Interior has recorded 962 violent episodes until November 2020.

Concentration in a health center in Malaga for an attack on health professionals.

Every day, at eight in the afternoon, the Spanish went out to their windows and balconies to applaud the effort that health professionals were making during the Covid-19 pandemic. A recognition that disappeared after the first wave of infections, giving way to tension among patients. anger that has been translated into attacks on doctors and nurses, to the point of increasing by 32.3% in the midst of a health crisis.

According to the data provided by the Ministry of the Interior to Invertia, 962 assaults to health professionals until November 2020, compared to the 727 that had been registered in the same period of 2019.

The increase in these violent episodes in Navarra, where aggressions have skyrocketed by 600%. Also in Melilla there has been a striking growth: 350% more than in 2019.

Galicia, Cantabria and Castilla-La Mancha have registered increases of over 100% until November 2020. For their part, in Castilla y León, Ceuta, Canarias and Extremadura, among others, aggressions against health professionals have decreased.

At the national level, violent episodes between 2019 and 2020 are also higher than those registered between 2018 and 2019. In this last period, according to the data provided by the National Police, Civil Guard and Local Police forces to the Criminal Statistics System (SEC), the number of both verbal and physical aggressions grew by 21.1%, compared to 32.2 % of 2020.

Poster of the campaign 'Stop attacks on health personnel'.

Poster of the campaign ‘Stop attacks on health personnel’.
Europa Press.

Health personnel are victims of attacks by patients or relatives for years. However, the figures do not show the reality. And it is that, as different unions point out, there are Many situations go unreported.

A problem that has been going on for some time and for which trade union organizations have been asking the Administration for a coordinated and effective solution for some time. They demand more protection measures for all health professionals.

Latest Health report

Just a few days ago, the Ministry of Health published a report that includes attacks on health professionals during the 2017-2018 period. The figures show a increase in the number of complaints from these personnel after being verbally or physically attacked.

Specifically, in 2017 a total of 8,326 notifications were registered, which represents a global rate of 15.39 attacks per 1,000 professionals. In 2018, 9,506 were reported, that is, a rate of 17.17 attacks per 1,000 professionals of the National Health System (SNS).

From the nursing union, Satse, they have called on the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities to speed up the collection of data to know the current reality. And it is that, as the organization itself has verified and the Interior data supports, there has been an upturn in aggressions in 2020.

As Satse explains, “the episodes of verbal violence, such as insults or threats, and also those of a physical nature, such as pushing or hittingThey have resurfaced.” CSIF has also warned that these types of situations “have been aggravated today as a result of the Covid-19 crisis”.

More protection

In a recent meeting between the department headed by Carolina Darias and the unions in the health sector, the Ministry of Health promised to promoting a coordinated action protocol with all the agents involved, as well as the State Security Forces, to act and prevent the attacks, according to CSIF.

Among the measures demanded by the Central Independent Trade Union and Civil Servants are reinforcing security in all health centers (protocols against attacks, greater police presence, surveillance cameras, panic buttons, prevention actions and self-protection measures for workers); psychological, legal and accompanying support; professional training and toughen sanctions.

For its part, Satse prepared a draft bill a few months ago that establishes a broad set of measures (prevention, awareness, information, support…) to protect health personnel.

Among other actions, this draft establishes the preparation of a Prevention Plan against Violence in the health field in each regional Health Service, as well as in each company or work center.