As many as 200,000 healthcare employees are considering switching to another sector due to the increasing aggression from patients, visitors and colleagues. This is evident from research by health insurer VGZ, Stichting IZZ and platform for mental wellbeing OpenUp.
The corona crisis in particular does not make working in healthcare any more fun, the research shows. As a result, 40 percent of healthcare workers saw their mental health deteriorate in the past year. This is due to the high workload, but certainly also due to the aggressive behavior of patients and visitors and unpleasant behavior of colleagues. As many as two in three healthcare workers experience aggression in the workplace. One fifth therefore feels unsafe at work. As a result, 60 percent suffer from stress and frustration.
The aggression experienced by healthcare workers takes many forms. Often it involves name calling, but physical attacks also occur. Others are harassed, bullied, discriminated against or confronted with destruction. Problems are mainly caused by visitors of patients who are not in hospital because of corona. These visitors sometimes refuse to respect the corona rules, which means that they increasingly have to be removed from the hospital by security guards. Much aggression seems to be due to visiting restrictions. Both patients and visitors are annoyed by this. The lack of attention of the workload plagued staff also contributes to aggression. Furthermore, employees are increasingly starting to respond to their frustrations about intensive working hours. It is not customary in healthcare to discuss such problems with management.
Last month, PGGM & CO also noted that three in four employees in the care and welfare sector have been exposed at least once to aggression or inappropriate behavior in contact with patients or clients in the past twelve months. This ranged from verbal or physical aggression to sexual or other intimidation or threats. PGGM & CO is the members’ association of pension provider PGGM, with 765,000 members who work or have worked in healthcare and welfare. The survey took place in February among more than 11,000 healthcare workers. 500 employees took part in the survey by, among others, VGZ.
Almost half of the care providers approached by PGGM were confronted with aggressive behavior by family or visitors of patients or clients, or by bystanders. A quarter experienced this from colleagues or supervisors. Verbal aggression by patients and clients is most common. Two out of three healthcare workers have experienced this in the past year. 38 percent experienced physical aggression, 22 percent involved sexual harassment and 20 percent had faced threats or intimidation. This survey showed that 4 percent are considering a career in a different sector. For employees who experience aggression from colleagues, this is 8 percent.
There will be one on May 11 webinar for healthcare workers and healthcare managers: ‘Dealing with aggression’.