Thousands of care workers suffer violent attacks

Rachel Harrison, national officer, GMB

Care workers suffered more than 6,000 violent attacks during the past five years, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.

Between the financial years 2013/14 to 2017/18, 6,034 violent attacks on care workers were reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with 5,008 employees seriously injured resulting in them taking at least seven days off work.

The figures, which were obtained by the GMB Union, found a further 1,026 carers suffered a ‘specified’ injury, including fractures, loss of sight, brain damage, loss of consciousness, asphyxia, or amputation.

The union said the true rates were likely to be much higher because the HSE warns ‘non-fatal injuries are substantially under-reported.’

Violent attacks account for a third of reports for residential care staff – compared to just 7% of reports for all workers.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: ‘Our members often tell us about the abuse they have to face at work – and these figures back them up.

‘These statistics are the tip of the iceberg – they only include the most serious injuries, and our members have to deal with violence on a daily basis.

‘Care is crucial. For each of us individually, our parents, grandparents, kids, friends and neighbours, but too often the sector is overlooked and the people working in care treated less than the frontline professionals that they are.’

GMB, the union for care workers, has helped launch an All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care to look at the care system, funding and state of staffing in the sector. The group’s first substantive work will be an inquiry into the professionalisation of social care workers.