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Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Mobiles to avert NHS violence
paramedic at work
Health staff assailants should be "named and shamed"
Mobile phones, pagers and panic buttons are to be issued to nurses, doctors and paramedics in a bid to cut violence against NHS staff.

The move, part of the NHS "zero tolerance" campaign, aims to reduce the number of attacks on health workers by 20% in the next year.

The Department of Health estimates that there are around 65,000 recorded incidents of violence against NHS staff every year.
nurses on ward
Thousands of staff are attacked every year

Now it wants all health authorities and hospitals to follow the example of those that have done most to stamp out attacks from patients and relatives.

This includes giving free mobiles and pagers to staff at risk, such as community nurses and GPs on home visits or ambulance staff and paramedics on the road.

Staff are also to be given more training in how to calm a possible attacker and defend themselves if a potentially dangerous situation arises.

Name and shame

New guidance on tackling NHS violence, launched by health minister John Denham also calls on health authorities press charges against patients who attack staff and to "name and shame" anyone who assaults a health worker.

The guidance aims to protect those staff who are most vulnerable to attacks, including those working with patients with a mental illness or learning disability, staff working in the community and ambulance staff.

Violent incidents per month per 1,000 staff
3 in acute trusts
7 in ambulance services
14 in community trusts
24 in mental health/learning difficulties

Staff making home visits in Tees and Northeast Yorkshire have been issued with pagers and log all appointments so colleagues know where they are.

Staff in Newcastle are given emergency alarms linked to a round-the-clock security company and local police.

Speaking from the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service, Mr Denham said: "When staff are attacked, other patients suffer and resources for patient care are wasted.

"Violence and the threat of violence put people off working in the NHS and make others give up. This is unacceptable."

The new guidance has been welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing's senior employment relations officer, Sheelagh Brewer.

"People usually think of A&E when they think about places of physical or verbal abuse where nurses work but many areas of nursing now carry risks. Violence and aggression towards nurses do not 'go with the territory' in any setting - they are never an acceptable part of the job," she said.

See also:

04 Feb 00 | Background Briefings
Violence against NHS staff
17 Mar 00 | Health
Courts get tough on NHS violence
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