Warding off violence

Friday 29 November 2013

Members of the security team monitoring CCTV footage

Empowering staff to manage challenging patients is helping to prevent violence against doctors and nurses at Guy’s and St Thomas’. 

The number of physical assaults against staff at the Trust in 2012/13 was 14 for every 1,000 staff, much lower than the national average of 21, according to figures released by NHS Protect today (Friday 29 November). 

Jayne King, Head of Security, says: “Although the number of physical assaults is low compared to the national average, no incident is acceptable and we are working hard to continue to keep them to a minimum. 

“We have a responsibility to teach frontline staff to deal with difficult patients or relatives through conflict resolution training.

“The security team meets with doctors and nurses in high risk areas – such as A&E – every week to talk through incidents and discuss whether anything could have been done differently. We also have security staff on-hand 24/7 in these areas and across our hospitals and community services to help deal with any conflict. 

“The Trust has invested in its security systems, including intruder alarms, CCTV, and local panic alarms. 

“We have plans to revamp the A&E department at St Thomas’ to create a calmer environment for patients and relatives, and put extra measures in place to protect staff.

“Equally important as preventing assaults is ensuring that victims get the right support. The Trust offers a counselling service for staff who have been assaulted and we also work with the charity Victim Support to ensure they get the help they need.”

The Trust took enforcement action against 43 people who assaulted staff last year. This rate is better than any other acute hospital trust in England and Wales. 

Jayne King adds: “We work with the local police to ensure that people who have assaulted staff receive the appropriate sanction and are prosecuted wherever possible.”

Patients or relatives can become violent for a number of reasons including feeling distressed or upset, alcohol or substance abuse, and head injuries.

Jayne explains: “It is not always appropriate to take action against patients who have been abusive because of a medical condition such as a head injury or mental health problem.”

NHS Protect’s violence against NHS staff 2012/13 statistics are available at www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/3645.aspx 

Last updated: November 2013

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