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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Getting tough on violence in the NHS

Myself and a GP member of BMA Cymru Wales gave evidence to the Assembly Audit Committee yesterday, on the back of the Auditor General’s latest report into violence and aggression against NHS staff. The committee’s holding an inquiry into the report findings, because the Auditor General has found that violence is still a big issue for NHS workers.

That’s despite the fact that the Auditor General first looked into this four years ago and uncovered serious concerns back then.

It would be unfair of me to say that the WAG hasn’t made any progress on this in that time, as some improvements have been made (for instance, the launch of the training passport scheme in 2005) but I’m afraid there is still along way to go. And what is worrying for doctors, is that the emphasis on tackling violence seems to be focussed on hospitals, when in actual fact, a big area of concern identified in the report is NHS employees working alone, such as GPs and their support staff. More investment needs to be made here with the introduction of safety measures such as panic buttons and CCTV being installed.

This inquiry is very timely, as it’s now, during the on-going NHS reorganisation that systems like the Primary Care Support Service could be given more scope for development, to help in areas like violence and aggression against doctors.

I generally got the impression yesterday that AMs sitting on the Audit Committee are extremely concerned about the issue and there is a strong will to change things. I just hope that happens sooner rather than later and that ways of tackling this growing problem feature heavily in the Health Minister’s NHS reorganisation plans.

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