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NHS Needs Director

by msecadm4921

Bristol Royal Infirmary will not be the first, nor the last hospital to feel the need to equip its security officers with personal protective equipment, comments Garry Purdy, who chairs the National Association for Healthcare Security.

Equipping security officers with handcuffs is not the way forward though. In fact, raising the profile of security officers as ‘quasi-military’ officers raises cause for extreme concern within the Executive of the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS). The NAHS has been working hard over the past decade and more to raise the professional profile of healthcare security. Over the past two years we have sat on the Security Policy Review Group, under the DOH, working with other organsiations connected with the healthcare industry to raise policies and standards for recommendation to HM Government. We are hopeful that all of this work will be published shortly, and that the publications will be distributed to all trusts prior to the end of this year. I can assure you that there are no recommendations contained with this document which advocates security officers, or indeed chief executives of trusts, being advised to adopt the use of handcuffs. The NAHS recognises of course the Health and Safety at Work Act, and the Human Rights Act, the former Act which raises the need for risk assessments and the duty of employers to ensure the safety and welfare of their employees whilst at work. Handcuffs cannot be classed as protective equipment. The use of handcuffs has been discussed in the past and utterly rejected for obvious reasons. If such a need arises then the Police Service should be called upon to do their duty. The NHS Zero Tolerance website lists ‘Best Practice’ hospitals within the field of healthcare security. Many other trusts adopt similar security systems in the country. You will find that the majority are members of the NAHS. It is advisable to follow a customer care strategy which focuses on training security officers to adopt the Conflict Resolution Model, which aims to reduce the tension of the situation by inter-personal skills, a quiet and calm approach, knowledge of body language, and only uses trained force on either a break-away technique, or a control and restraint method where appropriate. Training in these skills is absolutely essential. Identification on the cause of the violence has to be established. Has the violence been caused by criminal or clincial reasons. Both have differing and far reaching consequences.
Imagine placing handcuffs on a person who might require clinical treatment for their violent behaviour, caused possibly by a brain injury or mental illness! and as a consequence cannot form the necessary ‘mens rea’ to warrant detention procedures. Most recently, Health Minister Alan Milburn, has introduced a ‘red card’ scheme to trusts, which allows doctors in charge of a patient to take certain action in the event of the patient’s regular and unwarranted verbal or physical violence?.<br>
Good liaison with local Police Services is absolutely essential for all NHS trusts. If there is a complaint of poor response times from the local police, then it is the duty of the trust board, through its security manager, to raise this problem with the local constabulary, and set up regular police liaison schemes. Teamwork is the key. The Crime and Disorder Act partnership scheme is the vehicle. Desmond Green is correct when he states that his accident and emergency department ends up having to deal with much of the violence in the city. Many other trusts suffer the same. What is urgently required to assist beleagured healthcare security officers and clinical staff in this violent arena is a central Government policy, standardised throughout trusts by law, with a nominated and authorised director of security, under the NHS banner. This legitimate authority would lead the way forward on healthcare security, auditing and benchmarking NHS trusts to ensure compliance by chief executives. Standardisation throughout all trusts in the country is vital. Security should not depend upon the whim or thoughts of a security adviser or security manager who brings differing ideas to the arena, mostly dependent upon his/her background and experience.

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