The danger awaiting emergency servicesOn 6 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Ambulancecrews are putting themselves at risk every time they respond to a 999 call.With violence in the NHS predicted to increase, what are trusts doing to fightback? Paramedic Simon Spencer has been having weekly counselling sessions buthe has still had problems sleeping since he was stabbed after responding to a999 call.Spencer,who has been a paramedic for 10 years, had to have 36 stitches following aknife attack a month ago at a flat in east London at 3am. He is still off work.Suchattacks are increasingly common according to a new survey by Health ServiceReport, which shows violent and aggressive incidents against health servicestaff increased by 22 per cent last year (News, 30 January).WendyFoers, director of human resources for the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust,said that on average there is an attack on a member of LAS staff every day.Shesaid, “We are increasingly concerned about the number of attacks on ourcrews. It can range from a push to something serious like the stabbing thathappened to Simon.”Weencourage staff to report all incidents and there has been an increase inreports, but I do think there is also an increase in the number of incidentsour staff are exposed to.”Wewill be recruiting 400 staff next year and we want to be able to advertisewithout people thinking they may well be at risk.” LondonAmbulance Service is developing a number of measures to try to help protectstaff. One of these is its No Excuse publicity campaign aimed at raising publicawareness of the problem. It may also include teaching breakaway techniques,providing protective equipment such as stab vests and identifying addresseswhere there is a known risk of violence.Theambulance service is also trying to forge closer links with the MetropolitanPolice and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure action is taken againstpeople who attack paramedics.Thesurvey reveals that NHS trusts have responded to the increase in violenceagainst its staff by introducing a variety of measures to combat the risinglevel of violence and aggression.Four-fifthsof those surveyed have installed CCTV, nearly three-quarters now employsecurity guards and 73 per cent have controlled access to certain areas. Onetrust even employs a “management of aggression” adviser tocontinually monitor levels of workplace violence.KeithJohnston, HR director for North Bristol NHS Trust, said, “Anecdotally itwould appear that there is a higher incidence ofviolence and aggression, although the figures may say more about the raisedprofile of violence and aggression as a result of better reporting.”Johnstonadded that all NHS trusts have a zero-tolerance approach to violence andaggression against their staff. North Bristol NHS Trust has installed CCTV inits car parks and some public areas, and staff have been offered attack alarms.It also employs security guards who are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days aweek.GaryTheobald, personnel manager for the Basildon and Thurrock General HospitalsTrust, said, “Although the number of violent incidents across our trusthave reduced over the past year, the incidents that are happening are moreworrying.”MikeGriffin, HR director for Kings College Hospital NHS Trust, said the survey’sfigures reflect the trust’s own statistics. He thinks the increase indicatesimproved reporting of violent and aggressive incidents rather than an actualincrease in numbers.Hesaid, “I am expecting to continue to see a rise in the level of reportedviolent and aggressive incidents as we encourage people to be less willing toput up with that sort of behaviour.”Theoccupational health adviser with the Royal College of Nursing, Carol Bannister,is pleased that trusts are acting positively to try to protect their staff. Shesaid, “I would hope if you look at the same survey in less than two years’time we would start seeing a reduction in this type of incident as the resultsof good practice start to kick in.”ByBen Willmott Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.