Budget 2018: Surprise mental health services announced as NHS spending increases £20bn

Philip Hammond is expected to unveil a £2-billion-a-year funding boost for NHS mental health services

Philip Hammond is expected to unveil a £2-billion-a-year funding boost for NHS mental health services

'For those in the most unpredictable, frontline settings - paramedics, accident and emergency staff and mental health professionals - dealing with violent or abusive patients happens all too often.

He said; "NHS staff dedicate their lives to protecting and caring for us in our times of greatest need and for any one of them to be subject to aggression or violence is completely unacceptable", said Hancock.

Today Mr Hancock will announce the first ever NHS Violence Reduction Strategy.

Latest figures show that more than 15 per cent of NHS staff have experienced violence from patients, relatives or the public in the last 12 months - the highest figure for five years.

Mr Hancock added: 'We want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system'.

A new zero-tolerance approach will be adopted and a partnership between the NHS, police and Crown Prosecution Service will aim to see offenders prosecuted quickly.

"Whilst we note the chancellor's announcement on the future of PFI, a number of trusts with particularly onerous existing PFI contracts will need further financial support if they are to meet the prime minister's stipulation that no NHS organisation should be in financial deficit over the medium term".

Growing numbers of patients with mental health problems and dementia - which causes outbursts of aggression - are also thought to be behind the increase.

A new system will be introduced so staff can record assaults or other incidents of abuse or harassment.

The DHSC said training in de-escalation and conflict resolution will be assessed to ensure it is up to date and effective, with improvements made where necessary.

While Monday's pledged investment is very welcome, and a recognition of how much more there is to do before the NHS treats mental health equally with physical health, it must also be matched by fairer funding for public health, early years and social care services in local government.

"It is a sad fact that nearly none of the perpetrators receive custodial sentences when they are prosecuted for assaulting our staff", the association's managing director Martin Flaherty said.

'It's vital discussions take place about how to use this funding, and I hope charities and those with what we call lived experience of mental health issues are engaged with'.

Sara Gorton, head of health at the union Unison, said: "No-one should be abused, threatened or attacked at work - especially when all they're trying to do is help people".

Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, welcomed the initiative, saying: "Patients - and their families - coming into the Emergency Departments are often experiencing the worst day of their lives; anxious, confused and often frustrated".

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