Defence strategy

first_imgHospital staff are increasingly facing violence and abuse from the public. RossWigham looks at a training initiative designed to help keep staff safeI did a shift myself on a Friday evening and it was pretty extreme. A majorbrawl had broken out in the town centre. Those involved ended up at the samehospital and the fight started again, despite their injuries.” No, this is not an episode from the latest TV drama, but a glimpse intoUnited Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs nine city-centre hospitals andsuffered 66 violent episodes last year. Security is hugely important. The speaker, Des Green, head of security for the trust’s hospitals inBristol, went back to the floor to understand the stark realities of working incasualty. “I had to restrain people who were already injured, until thepolice arrived,” he recalls. “It’s very difficult because you notonly have to protect staff and the public, but also people who are alreadyinjured and bleeding heavily.” Green was appointed after the trust had been served with a health and safetynotice which stated that the problem was becoming dangerous and seriouslydamaging staff morale. Specialist training formed the central component of a new £200,000 securityprogramme including CCTV, protective equipment, personal alarms and improvedliaison with police. It centres on tailor-made training to help the trust’s 11security staff deal with threats and learn sophisticated conflict-managementtechniques. “They were providing a viable response but needed more training. Wewanted to ensure security staff were operating professionally and werecompliant with Home Office rules and standards, using proper techniques,”says Green. The security officers have been issued with handcuffs, individually tailoredbody armour, slash-proof gloves and the trust is now considering issuing riotshields. Using the equipment properly and within legal guidelines requiredextensive training, with staff receiving regular updates every three months. “Training was absolutely crucial. We needed to equip them with theright tools so they didn’t get hurt while restraining people or going abouttheir duties,” explains Green. Staff also have to be taught their legal limitations and protocolsurrounding violent incidents. Green explains that because of the nature of thejob, staff have to perform an almost quasi-policing role. Naturally staff mustbe aware of the law. “We have to study the legal aspects around when staff have theauthority to use force, reports and procedural rules. We also try to instilrestraint and the need for a cool head because it’s crucial security staffdon’t over-react to an incident” he adds. Courses are provided by a specialist training firm made up of ex-policeofficers (which cannot be named). Training culminates in practical and writtenexams to check competency. This is backed with continuous on-the-job trainingand ongoing checks to ensure constant development. It also teaches staff thecorrect way to reporting incidents, collect evidence, and submit writtenreports. Training also has to stand up to scrutiny if anything does go wrong, soGreen logs every level of development. “If we ever have to appear in courtI can bring out all the training records to show what we do and how we doit.” Green says the training scheme has proved so fundamental to the running ofthe hospital that the security department in now going through ISOaccreditation. “I would recommend the training to others and in fact I’mhoping to establish this trust as a centre of excellence for security.” The security team had expected some adverse reaction from other hospitalstaff and patients but concerns that the appearance of uniformed guards wouldcreate a daunting atmosphere on the wards have proved to be unfounded. In fact, the trust’s HR director Anne Couts has received positive feedbackfrom staff who say they feel safer and have less concerns about security.”Patients and staff at the hospitals see that security has visiblyimproved. Security in the NHS has traditionally been low key but I’m sure othertrusts will follow us,” she says. Proper restraintTraining is similar to police techniques, involving classroomtheory and practical learning where staff practice on crash mats.”The main thing we focus on is the use of HomeOffice-approved restraining techniques. Specifically, we teach methods such asarm locks and holding grips,” says Green.At the outset the team went back to basics and initial trainingwas completed within two weeks. This was supplemented with regular updates,building up level by level.”You have to get the basics right to be able to progress,but all the training was done in full kit for realism.”All body armour is tailor-made for the individual so itis important to get it right,” says Green. Previous Article Next Article Defence strategyOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more