According to data released on 17 November by the DGS, in all of last year, 961 episodes of violence against health professionals were recorded on the platform (825 in 2020) and by the end of this October, there were already 1,347.

The DGS says that this increase in notifications is due, in part, to "the strengthening of training for health professionals", stating in the first half of this year, more than 7,000 health professionals were trained to know how to notify aggressions, what to do for self-protection and how to request psychological or legal support.

The data will be presented in Lisbon at the seminar "Violence in the Health Sector - From Prevention to Action", an activity in the scope of the DGS's Action Plan for the Prevention of Violence in the Health Sector (PAPVSS).

"The more we, become aware of a theme, the more we also talk about it", recognises Sónia Pinote Bernardes, who is leading the plan at the Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Central, underlining: "that health professionals should be more alert and become less tolerant to some situations".

She says that health professionals, "in the height of their altruism and in their mission", often allow themselves to be attacked by others "in situations of altered consciousness, or in situations of substance abuse, for example", but reminds us that younger professionals already look at the problem with less tolerance.

"I believe that younger people are already less tolerant of aggressive behaviour. There is a generational difference between the health professional of the past and the ones of now, and this is even reflected in conflicts between colleagues", she explained, saying that sometimes a less tolerant attitude is interpreted as "selfishness or narcissism".

To give health professionals the tools to deal with the problem, various training courses have been promoted. In the first six months of this year, there were 227 training and violence prevention actions carried out at the initiative of health institutions, and 139 those given by PSP/GNR elements to doctors, nurses, technical assistants and operational assistants.

Sónia Bernardes recognises the need to "reorganise the current health service, taking into account people's new needs", to help prevent situations of conflict.

"We have different illnesses which are linked to behaviour, namely diabetes, hypertension and all the autoimmune diseases, which end up being very much related to stress factors. And, in fact, there is a whole range of anxious symptoms that we have to give strategies and resources to people", she said.

To respond to this reality, the network of psychological support to health professionals who are victims of violence in the workplace is present in 67 institutions of the National Health Service and the legal support network in 56 institutions.

Most of the victims of these episodes of aggression recorded in the first ten months of 2022 are doctors (32%), 31% are nurses and 29% technical assistants. Psychological violence (67%) is the most evident in the data of episodes of violence reported in the Notifica Platform between January and October 2022, followed by harassment (14%) and physical violence (13%).

In the first semester of 2022, of the 831 situations of violence reported, 75 were criminally denounced, 102 professionals were followed up with legal support (clarification of doubts) and 370 professionals were referred for psychological support.

When asked about the importance, for health professionals, of having consequences for those who practice aggressive acts, Sónia Bernardes replied: "There must be consequences. We all can make mistakes in the most difficult and challenging moments of our lives, and recognise that error. But there are behaviours that are intentional, and these will have to have consequences".

However, the official defends that "there are other behaviours that are reported and have to be analysed".

According to international data, it's estimated that throughout the world, around 50 percent of healthcare professionals suffer at least one episode of physical or psychological violence every year.