Assault victims seen almost twice a week at Bedford Hospital

Figures show knives are not as much of a problem as fists, despite emphasis on knife crime

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 1:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 1:30 pm

Assault victims were treated in hospital almost twice a week at the Bedford Hospital Trust last year, new figures show.

Anti-violence charities say it is clear more needs to be done to tackle issues such as knife crime and alcohol-fuelled brawls, after figures revealed English hospitals are tending to thousands of injured victims every year.

Analysis of NHS figures shows doctors at Bedford Hospital NHS Trust saw 100 patients who had been admitted to hospital after being assaulted in 2019-20 – an average of almost two patients every week.

Bedford Hospital (Google)

They were among 2,515 assault victims recorded across the East of England.

The figures – which are rounded to the nearest five – count each period a patient spends under one consultant's care, so someone could be captured more than once.

Across England, 28,905 assault admissions were recorded, with 29,483 episodes of consultant care between them.

Local breakdowns on the type of assault are not available, but nationally assault by bodily force was the most common cause of admission, accounting for 16,852 hospital stays.

This was followed by knife and sharp object attacks (4,674) and assaults with a blunt object (2,115).

Patrick Green, CEO of anti-knife charity the Ben Kinsella Trust, said it was a relief to see a drop in knife-related injuries, after admissions fell from 5,069 in 2018-19.

But with admissions still the third highest for a decade, he said there is still a "long way to go before we can start to think that we are turning the tide on knife crime".

He added: "No child is born carrying a knife. It is a learned behaviour. We have to do more to educate young people about the dangers of knife crime to help them to make positive choices, and not end up in hospital wards or police cells."

Charity Stand Against Violence however said the figures show knives are not as much of a problem as fists, despite "relentless emphasis and media storms" on knife crime.

CEO Adam Fouracre said: "We need to ensure our efforts to tackle violence focus on tackling violence holistically and not honing in on weapons."

Alcohol use, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, is a major contributor to societal violence, he added.

The figures also reveal different types of assault suffered by male and female patients – the second most common reason for women and girls to be under a consultant's care was assaults involving physical and sexual abuse, mental cruelty or torture.

There were 1,012 such cases nationally in 2019-20, accounting for one in six female assault victims, and an increase of 31 per cent compared to 2015-16.

Cases of sexual assault among women and girls meanwhile increased by 89 per cent, climbing from 116 to 219 cases across England.

Sarah Green, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said the figures show doctors, nurses and paramedics are seeing victims of domestic and sexual violence routinely, and called for medics to ensure that women are directed to the necessary support.