In the UK, the number of attacks on NHS staff between 2016 and 2017, has risen by up to 10% from the previous year, with a new shocking total of 56,500 reported assaults.
Why are medical staff at risk?
Whilst physical assaults to staff in the healthcare sector are not uncommon, the recent reports of increasing numbers taken from 181 NHS hospital trusts, demonstrate a serious cause for concern. The rise in attacks has been put down to understaffing and delays to patients needing emergency care.
Medical staff who are commonly victims of attacks at work have been highlighted as nurses, paramedics and mental health staff.
Sara Gorton from the Unison’s head of health states: “Across the entire NHS, staff shortages are harming patient care and helping to create a hostile environment where health workers are increasingly at risk of being assaulted.”
Working alone and during later shifts exposes lone Emergency Service workers to accidents on the road when travelling. They are also targetted by members of the public behaving unpredictably and violently, especially if they are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. However, with added pressures on the NHS; from patient numbers growing and a lack of additional staff, there is a heightened risk to staff who are faced with anger and hostility when performing their duties to aid members of the public.
What are the consequences?
Assaults and violence experienced by NHS workers have a profound impact on their health and wellbeing, with many cases of post-traumatic stress proving evidence of this. This is turn affects Emergency Service organisations who are burdened with large costs amounting from sick leave and payouts for workers suffering from stress and injuries.
In terms of prevention, thorough risk assessments should always be carried out to identify areas or situations where the risk of violence is higher – and additional safety measures put into place.
For those working alone, a lone worker policy should be adopted, including methods of checking in with staff and how they can signal for help in an aggressive or violent situation.
The NHS highly recommends via their Staff Council guide that to prevent and minimise risk to lone working employees, a safety system should be implemented by Employers consisting of all-encompassing technology complete with tracking and panic alert features.
How can StaySafe protect lone working paramedics?
Apps are now increasingly being introduced to replace dedicated devices for their easily accessible and cost-effective attributes. The intuitive StaySafe app assures lone worker protection through features such as panic alerts, timed check-in sessions and GPS tracking, and allows you to monitor your lone workers effortlessly whilst they carry out their duties.
A range of alerts can be sent to the hub, depending on the type of situation the user is faced with. For example, the hub will be notified immediately if a Lone Worker has triggered an alert, and deliver the best assistance to support the worker.
A lone worker can simply instigate a check-in session within the app to update their company on their location and the duration of the duty they are undertaking. If a user misses a session, the staff at the hub will be notified and can investigate before taking action.
The app is tailored to the needs of medical staff with its range of functionality and panic alerts so that If an employee feels threatened or under attack, they can raise an alarm discreetly by inputting a unique duress pin which is unknowledgeable/unknown to their attacker. This will fool the attacker into thinking the app has been disabled when in fact an alert has been raised in the Hub, and an escalation of next steps to support the Lone Worker can be put in place immediately.