HC Deb 02 May 1989 vol 152 cc98-9W
Mr. Ashley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he has held, or proposes to hold, discussions with the police about assaults on nurses;

(2) what is the trend in the number of assaults on nurses;

(3) how many nurses' homes are signposted in hospital grounds;

(4) how many nurses have been issued with personal alarms by their employers;

(5) what steps he is taking to train nursing staff in violence avoidance;

(6) in how many nurses' homes full-time security staff are employed;

(7) what is his estimate of the number of nurses who have been assaulted in hospitals or hospital grounds in the last year for which figures are available;

(8) if he will set up a working party to study the incidence of violence against nurses and the reasons for it and to make recommendations;

(9) if he will provide central funding and specific grants for measures to prevent violence against nurses;

(10) if he has issued any recent circulars to health authorities about measures to be taken to cope with violence against nurses;

(11) what information he has as to how many break-ins have been reported in nurses' homes in the last year for which figures are available;

(12) what steps he has taken to ensure that nurses are provided with transport after working on late duty;

(13) if he has made any recommendations to health authorities about standards of lighting in hospital grounds.

Mr. Mellor

Although we do not hold the detailed information about nurses requested by the right hon. Member centrally, many health authorities have taken effective measures to ensure the safety of their staff. These include the employment of contract security staff; close circuit television; personal alarms; two way radios; improved lighting and the introduction of professional nurse triage to reduce waiting times in accident and emergency departments.

At national level the DHSS advisory committee on violence to staff was established in February 1987 to examine the problem throughout the caring services. The committee, which comprised management, professional bodies, family practitioners and trades union representatives from all the services, was chaired by my noble Friend Lord Skelmersdale. Its report was published in July last year. Copies were issued to all NHS general managers and placed in the Library.

The report stresses the importance of accurate reporting of incidents and its principal recommendations relate to the need for employers to recognise the fundamental place of a safe working environment in the determination of local priorities and budgets and the development of local safety and security policies. Specifically, it urges liaison with the police and with staff and their representatives; training in the avoidance and control of violent situations; local collaboration and the sharing of experiences; and the counselling of victims. A video reinforcing the committee's recommendations and in which I stressed ministerial concern about this important issue was sent to all health authorities in February this year.

I strongly endorse the theme of the report that the issue of violence to staff is one which can be most effectively tackled locally by management and staff working together.

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