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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Police start patrols at city A&E
Morriston Hospital
The A&E unit at Morriston will be staffed by a dedicated officer
Police are starting to patrol the A&E department at Swansea's Morriston Hospital to support staff and victims of drink-related violence.

A dedicated officer will be based at the casualty department during its peak hours including weekend nights.

Hospital mangers said they were hopeful it will reduce attacks on doctors and nurses from drunken patients.

Last year there were 493 incidents of aggression towards hospital staff in Swansea according to the NHS Trust.

This is bound to reduce the work load in A&E and reduce the risk of violence to our staff
Andrew Bellamy

The initiative is part of Operation Night-Walk being launched this week by the Safer Swansea Partnership, which is made up of South Wales Police, Swansea Council and other private and public bodies.

A similar initiative run in the 1990s proved successful in reducing incidents at the city's casualty departments.

Andrew Bellamy of the NHS Trust said: "Treating the effects of alcohol is a major issue for the A&E department at Morriston.

"We support any initiative to reduce alcohol related violence as this is bound to reduce the work load in A&E and reduce the risk of violence to our staff."

Of the 493 incidents recorded by the trust in 2004, 267 were physical assaults by patients on staff.

Last Christmas a temporary 'field hospital' was set-up in the city to avoid having to send many patients who had been drinking to Morriston's A&E

Banning orders

Superintendent Julian Williams of South Wales Police said the latest scheme was part of a wider drive to tackle alcohol-related crime in the city.

He said night time exclusion orders banning offenders from the city centre and other measures had led to a drop of 8.5% in violent crime.

"Alcohol-related crime is not just a private business between the victims and the culprits, it concerns all of us," said Mr Williams.

"A patient who can't be seen or who has an operation delayed because of a drink-related admission is a victim.

"The nurse or paramedic at danger of drink-related aggression is a victim.

"And we're all victims when as taxpayers we bear the costs of violent crime."

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