NHS :: £97 million boost to tackle violence against NHS staff

NHS trusts across England will share £97 million to help tackle violence and abuse against NHS staff, the Department of Health confirmed today.

£29 million will be spent on 30,000 safety alarm devices for lone workers. As well as including an alarm function, the device will help locate the user and link to a trained individual who can summon help if needed.

The remaining £68 million will fund a range of security measures to reduce violence and abuse, including:

– Training in personal safety, conflict resolution and dealing with verbal abuse for all NHS staff who need it. Conflict resolution training has already been delivered to 250,000 staff and has been very well received;

– Additional local security management specialists in health bodies. These are staff who are trained and accredited by the NHS Security Management Service and lead locally on security management initiatives, including work to tackle assaults against staff;

– More funding to increase the number of prosecutions of cases where staff are assaulted. While there has been a substantial increase in the number of prosecutions (850 in 2005/06 compared to 51 in 2002/03) numbers are still too low compared to the number of assaults that are reported;

– A centralised reporting system so that the NHS Security Management Service can identify poor performing Trusts, analyse security weaknesses and recommend targeted prevention measures.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said:

“Over 58,000 NHS staff were physically assaulted by patients and relatives in England in 2005-06. This is completely unacceptable. NHS staff working alone and in the community are particularly at risk. Thanks to these safety alarms they will know that help is at hand.”

“Although we have seen a sixteen-fold increase in prosecutions since 2003, more needs to be done. NHS staff dedicate their lives to caring for the sick and in return they deserve respect. Anybody who abuses our staff must face tough action and the possibility of jail.”

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