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09-30-2007, 01:54 PM
ALL frontline healthcare workers should to be given a free personal attack alarm to help protect them from violent attacks, Welsh doctors' leaders said.

BMA Cymru Wales' continued call for tough action against violence against NHS staff follows an announcement by Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson MP*, that NHS Trusts in England will receive an additional 97m to protect workers'.

BMA Welsh Secretary, Dr Richard Lewis said: "Threatening behaviour towards NHS staff by patients and their relatives is becoming a common problem for staff in all areas of the health service and some even consider violence to be an occupational hazard.

"It is simply unacceptable that health care professionals should be living with the fear of violence or that the threat of violence be an acceptable part of their job. It is no wonder we struggle to recruit and retain staff and unless there is a cultural change in behaviour, this will go from bad to worse. Although the majority of patients and relatives behave in the appropriate manner, a small minority are abusive and can attack staff."

In Wales, there are some 22 cases of violence or aggression reported by NHS workers each day and estimates suggest that it costs the NHS more than 6 million a year.

On average one healthcare worker is attacked every seven minutes across the UK.

BMA Cymru Wales is now urging the Welsh Health Minister, Edwina Hart, to follow England's lead.

Dr Lewis added: "Workers on the frontline need better protection. The Welsh Asembly Government and NHS Wales are already committed to a zero tolerance approach towards violence and abuse of staff and the message must be clear, individuals committing such acts must be prosecuted and to quote Alan Johnson's directly, anybody who abuses our staff must face tough action and the possibility of jail.

"That said, just a few weeks ago we saw a GP stabbed in Glasgow* carrying out her daily duties. Alan Johnson's announcement that health workers in England will receive attack alarms is therefore welcome. However, as yet, we've had no similar announcement in Wales.

"The Welsh Assembly Government needs to follow Alan Johnson's lead.

"That is why we are calling for all health care workers and students to be given personal attack alarms, whilst in clinical areas, on community or domiciliary visits and on hospital grounds. But this will only be successful if it is followed by well-rehearsed, effective procedures to aid colleagues in the event of an alarm being raised."

BMA policy (111, (379) 2007 ARM states: That this meeting calls for all health care workers and students to be provided with personal attack alarms, whilst in clinical areas, on community or domiciliary visits and on hospital grounds and that well-rehersed, effective procedures must exist for aiding colleagues in the event of an alarm being raised.

Further information on Protecting NHS Staff from violence and aggression in Wales is available in a report undertaken by the National Assembly for Wales' Audit Committee in 2006. The report is available here. (http://www.wales.nhs.uk/documents/Protecting_NHS_Staff_from_violence_and_aggression. pdf)

* The Secretary of State for Health in England, Alan Johnson MP, announced at the Labour Party Conference this week (Tuesday 26th September) that NHS trusts across England will share 97 million to help tackle violence and abuse against NHS staff. Alan Johnson said: " ... To give greater protection we will issue personal safety alarms to those NHS staff who need them, as part of a 97 million boost to the NHS security budget. This will ensure that we have better security in hospitals and that we improve the training we give to staff to deal with aggressive behaviour ... " A copy of the full speech is available here. (http://www.labour.org.uk/conference/johnson_speech)

* The details of an attack on a GP in Glasgow are available here. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/6970654.stm)

Doctor stabbed in city practice
A doctor is being treated in hospital after she was stabbed in her surgery.

Dr Helen Jackson, 56, was assaulted at the practice at 91, Hyndland Road in the west end of Glasgow at about 0950 BST, Strathclyde Police said.

She was taken to the city's Western Infirmary after receiving wounds to her body. Her condition is described as stable.

Her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. Police said a man is helping them with their inquiries.

One elderly resident, who did not want to be named, said: "It is really quite frightening to think that something like this could happen in such a normally nice area. No-one could believe it when they were first told."

Despite the incident in the morning, the surgery was open to patients as normal in the afternoon.

http://www.bma.org.uk (http://www.bma.org.uk/)