The GMB union for care workers has revealed new figures that show care workers suffered more than 6000 violent attacks during the last five years.

The statistics, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, were released ahead of the GMB’s annual congress, in Brighton. They showed that workers on the front line report that almost all attacks would have been perpetrated by residents in their care, many of whom have mental health conditions.

Between the financial years 2013/14 to 2017/18, 6034 violent attacks on care workers resulting in serious injury were reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); 5008 workers were so seriously injured they had to take at least seven days off work; a further 1026 carers suffered a “specified” injury, which can include fractures, loss of sight, brain damage, loss of consciousness, asphyxia, or amputation.

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

GMB National Officer Rachel Harrison said: “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.”

The GMB said the true rates are likely to be much higher, as the HSE has warned that “non-fatal injuries are substantially under-reported”.

Rachel Harrison added: “Unfortunately, our members are sometimes put under unacceptable pressure to keep working after an attack when they should be receiving care themselves.

“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.”

The GMB has been involved in launching an All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care (APPG Social Care) to look at the care system, funding and state of staffing in the sector.

More information is available at www.gmb.org.uk.

Last reviewed 11 June 2019