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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 12:40 GMT
Zero tolerance of hospital violence
NHS staff
Call for support to prosecute violent patients
The Welsh Assembly is urging NHS staff to adopt a zero tolerance approach in order to combat violence against them at work.

A draft report by the assembly administration has been sent to all NHS trusts and health authorities in Wales recommending a zero tolerance zone approach to patients, relatives and the public.

Welsh Health Minister Jane Hutt
Jane Hutt : Violence will not be tolerated

"Violence against NHS staff is completely unacceptable and more measures need to be adopted to stamp it out," said Welsh Health Minister Jane Hutt.

"It is important that staff feel supported and encouraged to report all incidences of violence and aggression so that there is a full picture of the situation.

"There should be support too for staff who wish to take action against the perpetrators of violence."

The assembly is following in the footsteps of the UK Government which launched its own zero tolerance initiative more than two years ago.

Now in England pilot programmes are being run in which violent and abusive patients could be banned.

Measures recommended in the Welsh Assembly report include raising an awareness among NHS staff as to what constitutes workplace violence, and actively encouraging workers to report every incident of violence.

Assembly recommendations on combating NHS violence
Raising awareness of what constitutes workplace violence
Staff should be actively encourage to report every incident of violence
The police must be supported in prosecuting violent patients
A support policy for victims of violence should be implemented
Managers should be educated in undertaking risk assessments
Security advisers should be available for support in dealing with potential and actual risks
Environmental assessments should be undertaken

The police must be supported in prosecuting violent patients where they believe that course of action is appropriate, the report also recommends.

It also says security advisers should be available for support and consultation in dealing with potential and actual risks.

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.

Ms Hutt is urging a partnership approach between the NHS and those who work on the frontline of healthcare.

"It is vital that violence against NHS staff is tackled.

"Violence not only carries obvious injury and distress to staff, it also stops patients being treated and leads to increased sickness absence and poor morale."

Violent scenarios

Ms Hutt, expects a final version of the report to be available in the New Year.

Liz Hewett, head of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, welcomed the announcement, saying it gave nurses permission to say no to violence in the workplace.

"The RCN has always stressed that the NHS should adopt a policy of zero tolerance towards perpetrators of verbal and physical abuse.

"We would like to see significant training invested in training nurses and other staff to defuse potentially violent scenarios.

Violence and abuse were major considerations when nurses considered leaving the profession, said Ms Hewett

See also:

18 Jun 01 | Health
Violent patients face ban
14 Oct 99 | Health
Zero tolerance for NHS violence
14 Oct 99 | Health
NHS violence: The nurses' story
12 Jul 00 | Scotland
Sharp increase in NHS violence
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