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Thursday, November 18, 1999 Published at 13:43 GMT

UK: Scotland

Daily threat of violence in hospitals

The conference heard first-hand accounts of violence

Scottish health workers face the daily threat of violence from patients, a conference has been told.

Delegates representing hospital workers, GPs and social workers heard first-hand accounts of violence inflicted by patients on those trying to care for them.

The two-day conference in the Murray Royal Hospital was told that about one in 10 health professsionals can expect to encounter such trouble in their workplace.

The "Dangerous Times" conference, opened by Scottish Health Minister Susan Deacon, is investigating how best to deal with volatile situations.

Aggression management

It is examining the practice of aggression management where specialised training could help doctors and nurses to calm an angry patient before they become violent.

[ image: Susan Deacon opened the conference]
Susan Deacon opened the conference
Ms Deacon promised further help when the Scottish Executive publishes its new occupational health and safety strategy next month.

The paper will tackle a broad range of issues, with a view to providing a safer environment for those who care for others

The government last month launched a zero tolerance campaign to combat violence against NHS staff.

The campaign is designed to urge staff to report violence and tell the public that they should not stand by and watch it happen.

Information packs telling managers how to make working conditions safer for staff are also being distributed to hospitals.

Cost of violence 'great'

Launching the campaign, Health Minister John Denham said: "It is unacceptable that caring NHS staff can be rewarded with intimidation and violence.

"The cost of violence against staff is great. Victims can suffer physical and pyschological pain. Confidence can be irrevocably dented and stress levels rise."

Assaults in the NHS are the third most common cause of injury to staff, after falls and slips and needlestick accidents.

Last year 65,000 NHS employees were attacked. For every 1,000 people working for the NHS seven of them are attacked each month.

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