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The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"It won't include those that need immediate treatment or the mentally ill"
 real 56k

The BBC's Niall Dickson
"We are talking about long waiting lists and short tempers in many casualty departments around the country"
 real 28k

Health Secretary Alan Milburn
"It is very often staff working in the community... who suffer the most severe level of violence"
 real 28k

Monday, 18 June, 2001, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Violent patients face ban
nurses
Attacks on hospital staff have increased in the last year
Violent or abusive patients could be banned from hospitals for a year under guidelines to be announced by Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

The "zero tolerance" policy will be detailed in guidelines to be published in the autumn.

A "yellow card" warning may be issued to patients who commit an act of violence, make an offensive or sexual gesture, or use threatening or abusive language.

A "red card" for a second offence could see them denied treatment if a clinician established their condition was not life-threatening.


Frankly, it's unacceptable that staff that go to work to care for others are subject to these levels of violence and intimidation

Health Secretary, Alan Milburn
The rules will not apply to the mentally ill.

Other safety measures to be introduced in all hospitals include self-defence training for staff and the installation of close circuit television cameras and panic buttons in accident and emergency (A&E) departments and wards.

Mr Milburn told the BBC: "One violent incident is one too many - frankly, it's unacceptable that staff that go to work to care for others are subject to these levels of violence and intimidation.

"This has got to be a matter of being a last resort and subject to very stringent safeguards indeed.

"It clearly raises dilemmas, but it's right and proper that the NHS does everything possible to support its staff and I will stand four square behind them."


Nurses will be very reluctant to stop treating a patient - but if a patient is being violent, abusive and aggressive, they can't deliver high-quality care

Sheelagh Brewer
Royal College of Nursing
Also on Monday, Tony Blair will talk to doctors and nurses in the A&E department of an east London hospital - one of a number in the capital that successfully piloted the card system.

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister would give his full support to any hospital trust that adopts the scheme.

The number of incidents of violence or abuse suffered by front-line NHS staff in England rose to 65,000 last year.

There are now around 1,000 incidents of violence a year in which a staff member requires more than three days to recover.

One in three nurses have suffered abuse from the public and workplace violence is thought to be a principal cause of nurses leaving the profession.

Mike Stone of the Patients Association said of angry patients: "We can't condone it, but one can understand it if perhaps their tempers get a little bit frayed.

"What we should be looking at is more staff and more resources within A&E without a doubt. The more staff, the shorter the time people will then have to wait."

Sheelagh Brewer, Royal College of Nursing's health and safety advisor, told BBC News: "Nurses will be very reluctant to stop treating a patient - but if a patient is being violent, abusive and aggressive, they can't deliver high-quality care."

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See also:

14 May 01 | Health
Violent patients face ban
17 Mar 00 | Health
Courts get tough on NHS violence
12 Jul 00 | Scotland
Sharp increase in NHS violence
14 Oct 99 | Health
NHS violence: The nurses' story
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