Headlines: May 23rd, 2008

A former senior police officer has been given the job of driving forward measures to protect NHS staff in Wales from violence and aggression. David Francis, who was Deputy Chief Constable of South Wales Police, is currently chair of Cwm Taf NHS Trust.

His new role, which was announced by the Assembly Government’s Health Minister, Edwina Hart, follows the publication of a report looking at effective measures to tackle violence and aggressive behaviour towards health professionals. The report was prepared by a group led by the head of health for Unison, in Wales and the Assembly Government seconded David Wallace from the Royal College of Nursing to help develop its proposals.

Recommendations in the final report include more police patrols at hospitals and other health service premises; greater use of CCTV and a lone worker alert system; incorporating the existing violence and aggression training passport scheme into all NHS staff training; closer working between NHS trusts and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure the effective prosecution of perpetrators of violence and giving staff free access to solicitors to pursue prosecutions and the recovery of costs arising from violence at work.

Edwina Hart said Mr. Francis had the right skills from his service in the NHS and the police force to take forward the recommendations. “Work on costing and prioritising the recommendations is currently underway. When this work has been done we will publish a detailed plan which will show staff exactly what actions we will be taking over the next few years to tackle violence and aggression against NHS staff.” Mr. Francis added, “NHS staff are our most valuable asset. They come to work because they want to improve life for patients and carers. They deserve our full support and protection.”