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Monday, 14 September 2009

More than just understanding is needed to tackle violence and aggression in the Welsh NHS

This development is a step in the right direction and should help with the investigation and prosecution of alleged attacks against doctors and the wider medical profession.

Action to show people that violent behaviour will not be tolerated is long overdue with the problem becoming more widespread. More than 7,000 incidents were reported in the NHS in 2007-08. It is also an area that we have been calling for action for several years now, having been made aware of many incidents where our members have been victims of violence and aggression. As far as BMA Cymru Wales is concerned, it is totally unacceptable and inexcusable to attack a doctor, or any healthcare professional in the line of duty, when they are trying to ensure the good health and well being of patients.

There is still much to be done in completely stamping out this problem, which, to many of our members is sadly becoming part of the norm of their daily working lives.

To stand alongside this memorandum of understanding, BMA Cymru Wales is calling for the following;

A register of violent patients - If a doctor, nurse or other healthcare personnel can be alerted in advance to the possibility of a patient becoming violent, s/he will be forewarned and no longer placed in a position of vulnerability, through a lack of relevant information.

Training and Communication - Ensure that all staff are fully trained and are aware of the mechanisms to report physical or verbal abuse and that they are encouraged to report incidents.

Staff Support - Ensure that all staff are supported at all times, and continuing support (counselling services for example) are available after the violent incident.

Public Awareness - Patients and healthcare users need to know that they are not outside of the law while in contact with healthcare professionals and that those offenders will be brought to justice.

If these measures are brought in to force as well, then we really could be well on the way to eradicating this, unfortunately, growing issue.

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