NNUH steps up security
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust is leading the way in a new strategic and professional approach to improving security in the NHS, including tackling violence against NHS staff and the theft of property.
Working with the police, the Trust, which runs the Norfolk and Norwich University and Cromer hospitals, the new Local Security Management Specialist (LSMS), will investigate security breaches and implement new systems to help protect the NHS. They will illustrate to staff and patients the importance of a secure NHS.
During a five-week intensive training programme at the NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS) Training Centre in Reading and Coventry, NNUH security chief Bill Dye received professional training in both technical skills and the ethical framework needed to use those skills properly. This included areas such as investigative interviewing skills and a background in the law.
The Foundation Level professional qualification of 'Security Management Specialist' will shortly be followed by related Advanced and Degree Levels.
Every LSMS is supported by a NHS SMS developed Security Management Manual. The manual sets out the role of the LSMS and the new strategic approach to NHS security and gives advice on handling specific security breaches. It also includes examples of practical security measures. These include:
- Tackling violence and abuse against NHS staff
- Appropriate use of technology, e.g. CCTV and radio communications, and training for all security personnel to be able to use it effectively
- Effective alarm systems such as movement sensors and personal attack buttons
- NHS frontline staff trained in conflict resolution (see Notes to Editors for details);
NNUH Head of Security Management, Bill Dye said: “We are determined to keep our hospitals safe and secure for patients and staff. Over the years too many people have got away unpunished for their crimes against the NHS, especially those who attack our staff. This new profession means I have the skills to investigate and take the appropriate legal action against those who abuse the health service. The NHS should be a safe place to work and be treated, not for anti-social and criminal activity.”
Alex Nagle, Director of Security Management, at the NHS SMS said: “This new security profession is a first for the public sector. The NHS is leading the way in ensuring proper protection for people, property and assets.
“Those who believe the NHS is an easy target for crime are in for a shock. My message to those who think the NHS is a soft touch is this – we will not tolerate crime and we now have the means to punish you.”
Notes to Editors
1. In 2002/03 there were 116,000 incidents of abuse in the NHS (verbal and physical). The NHS SMS took responsibility for work to tackle this problem in December 2003 and began introducing proper definitions of violence and reporting system. The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust saw, between March 2004 and April 2005, 168 incidents of verbal abuse and 163 cases of physical violence.
2. On 2 March 2005 Secretary of State announced the completion of trials of a device to help protect those who work in the community. Using mobile phone technology the device helps these workers raise an alarm if they feel threatened or are attacked. It allows them to covertly record threats of violence or abuse, which may later be used in evidence. It can also be used in emergencies to locate the whereabouts of the member of staff concerned.
3. On 20 January 2004, Norman Hutchins, 53, who in June 2004 became the first person ever to receive a NHS-wide Anti-Social Behaviour Order, was imprisoned for three years for harassing NHS staff and obtaining gowns and surgical masks by deception. He was sentenced on 6 counts of deception, 1 count of affray and 1 count of possession of a bladed article (this count involves Mr. Hutchins threatening a NHS security guard with a knife).
4. The NHS SMS began a national syllabus for conflict resolution training for all NHS frontline staff in April 2004. The Training gives staff the skills to recognise and defuse potentially violent situations. Separate syllabuses for those working in mental health and learning disabilities are being developed by a CFSMS-led group. They will also consider the issue of physical intervention techniques.
5. State-of-the-art NHS SMS training centres in Reading and Coventry train NHS staff in conflict resolution and the new LSMS.
6. The NHS Legal Protection Unit was set up in December 2003 to ensure that legal action is taken against anyone who assaults NHS staff or any other serious breach of security;
7. The NHS SMS Legal Protection Unit’s first ever private criminal prosecution reached court in September 2004. The assailant assaulted a Community Nurse from Burnley. The prosecution was jointly funded by the NHS SMS and the Burnley and Rossendale PCT. A trial is due to start in July 2005.