A UNION said they are “concerned” about the level of violence staff experience at a mental health ward in Redditch.

Regional organiser for Unison, Mike Wilson, told The Advertiser that on July 2, an inpatient smashed a chair and threatened staff and patients with the chair leg at Hill Crest ward.

The inpatient then managed to arm themselves with boiling hot water and sugar, threatening to scald staff.

Staff then locked themselves in a room and called the police.

West Mercia Police confirmed officers attended the ward at Alexandra Hospital after they received a report concerned about the safety of a patient.

However, no injuries were reported.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said the incident was dealt with by staff and is “not outside of that which are occasionally experienced on an acute mental health ward.”

The trust said that all staff are trained in the management of violence and aggression which helps keep them and patients safe.

Since the incident, the inpatient has been transferred to another ward out of the county, said Unison, but “it should not have happened in the first place”.

“Generally, the level of violence that NHS staff experience is probably a lot higher than what the public realise,” said Mike.

“You cannot completely remove the probability that some patients in hospital will become violent but we can mitigate it.

“What happened at Hill Crest was unusual but it’s not the only incident they have had there, even though it was the most serious.

“Unison has raised concerns about staffing levels and there have been incidents at Hill Crest and other wards in the trust for some time.

Unison said they also have concerns about the trust’s reliance on agency workers on the ward.

A spokesperson for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: “Like the majority of NHS providers, we do use agency staff as part of our workforce, especially when we need extra staff because of patient acuity.

“We most often use agency workers who are familiar with the particular ward they are assigned to and work there often.

“We are confident in the quality and experience of the agency staff who work with us and manage relationships with temporary staffing providers to maintain this.”

Mike said he has met with Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust and said there will be some follow-up actions.

Hill Crest ward was last inspected by the Care Quality Commission in 2018, along with two other mental health wards/units and was rated as ‘require improvement for its safety and ‘good’ for effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

A spokesperson for the Care Quality Commission said they are carrying out a review of the service and looking at all "the information and intelligence available" to them. 

They will then determine their next steps which could be an inspection. 

"However this would be unannounced so we cannot provide any further information at this stage," added the spokesperson.