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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Man banned from every hospital
Norman Hutchins
Norman Hutchins threatened and abused NHS staff
An abusive patient has become the first person to be banned from entering or calling all NHS premises or private clinics in England and Wales.

Norman Hutchins, 53, from York, was made the subject of an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) by magistrates.

The court was told he had verbally and physically abused NHS staff 47 times in the last five months.

NHS security managers asked for the ban following an incident in which Hutchins was found with a knife.

York Magistrates' Court heard Hutchins' bizarre behaviour had become worse over recent months.

Hutchins, of Rowntree Avenue, York, was said to have a fetish for surgical masks and would contact NHS organisations to get them.

He would tell staff he needed them for amateur dramatics or he was doing a fun run in fancy dress.

Mr Justin Crossley, prosecuting on behalf of York City Council, told the court: "This defendant has over the preceding 15 to 16 years been involved in a number of offences.

We need to protect the NHS so that it can protect the public's health
Bill Darling, chair of the NHS SMS

"The lion's share of these acts involve making inquiries, direct inquiries to NHS establishments."

Magistrates were told not all allegations against Hutchins have yet been proved and his solicitor Harry Bayman said he denied some specific points.

He added that Hutchins was prepared to adhere to the interim order. He said: "The problem with this order is this gentleman, as with anyone else, may suffer health problems in the future and may require medical treatment.

"In any layman's opinion, he is not a well man and is almost bound to need medical treatment in the near future."

Jim Gee, chief executive of the NHS Security Management Service (SMS), said: "More than 30 NHS organisations have tried to respond locally to this problem by obtaining civil injunctions concerning their own premises."

He added that NHS staff were pleased the order had been made.

"This order sends a strong message to anyone who would consider acting violently or abusively towards NHS staff," he said.

Chair of the NHS SMS, Bill Darling, said: "It is very sad that this sort of action is necessary, but with the right to free healthcare from the NHS, there also comes responsibilities.

"The vast majority of patients and members of the public want to protect the NHS and its ability to provide patient care.

"Unfortunately, there is a minority who do not respect the NHS or the dedicated staff who work for it.

"It's very simple really, we need to protect the NHS so that it can protect the public's health."

'Clear message'

The interim order is believed to be the first Asbo covering every NHS organisation in England and Wales.

Bill Hodson, senior assistant director, Community Services, City of York Council, said: "Tackling anti-social behaviour is a top priority for the council and we are glad to have worked with our partners in the NHS and the police to obtain this order.

"Staff and members of the public need to be sure that they will be protected from unacceptable behaviour wherever it occurs and this order sends out a clear message that we're working together in York to achieve that."

The order prohibits Hutchins from entering or contacting by telephone or any other means any NHS establishment, primary care trust or private medical establishment in England and Wales, including hospitals, dentists, walk-in centres, GPs and emergency doctors.

He is also not allowed to contact establishments to try to obtain medical masks, gowns or any other medical-related clothing or equipment.

Finally, he is prohibited from engaging in any behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

The order states that if Hutchins does need medical attention during the term of the order, he must have a lawful excuse or prior written permission of the establishment concerned before he can use the NHS service.

He must notify the relevant establishment of his name and that he is the subject of this order.

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22 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland

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