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Hospitals Staff Are Safer From Harm

STAFF at Bristol's eight city centre hospitals are among the safest from violent assault of any hospital workers in the country.

Those working at hospitals managed by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UHBristol), which includes the Bristol Royal Infirmary, are at a dramatically lower risk of attack than counterparts at neighbouring hospital trusts, figures released today show.

There were only 13 assaults against UHBristol's 7,700 staff during 2006-7, a decrease of two on 2005-6, statistics published by the NHS Security Management Service reveal.

It means there were only 1.7 attacks for every 1,000 members of UHBristol's staff. The next best figure achieved by neighbouring hospital trusts was 10 attacks per 1,000.

The assaults on UHBristol staff have been punished by sentences ranging from anti-social behaviour orders to eight-month prison sentences.

UHBristol's head of security, Paul Wood, said: "The Trust's staff do crucial work to help the public and it is completely unacceptable that they should face violence and aggression in the course of their jobs.

"One assault is one assault too many but we are pleased that there were fewer attacks than the previous year. Our remarkably low figures demonstrate that we are making continuing progress in tackling violence."

He attributed that success to the training all Trust staff received in combating physical assaults and aggression and to the specialist training of security staff which equipped them to defuse potential violence.

"Our security officers maintain a very visible presence around our hospitals and I think that the word has spread that violence against our staff will not be tolerated," he added.

All Trust security staff also undergo training that includes law and restraint techniques such as cuffing. The team was one of the first in the NHS to introduce body armour and handcuffs and one of the first to set up an on-site police liaison unit.

The Security Management Service (SMS) statistics, released to mark NHS Security Awareness Month, show that there were 55,709 physical assaults against health service staff across England, 2,986 fewer than 2005-6.

UHBristol's outstanding performance in the SMS survey comes shortly after the Trust's own annual security report revealed huge progress in protecting patients, visitors and staff from crime.

The report showed significantly reduced levels of theft, burglary, vehicle crime and violence during 2006.

The number of burglaries was cut by more than half in comparison with 2005, violent offences fell by 28 per cent and thefts were reduced by 30 per cent. Vehicle crime plunged by almost 70 per cent.

The number of arrests by the Trust's security guards and the on-site police liaison unit rose from 70 in 2005 to 91, an increase of 23 per cent.

The figures reflect a steady improvement in security and safety - particularly at the BRI - since the Trust launched its crime reduction strategy in 2003.

The Trust also retained its prestigious National Security Inspectorate (NSI) Premier Guarding Gold award. The award, given by organisations that consistently meet the security industry's highest standards, is made only after rigorous checks.

UHBristol became in 2005 the first hospital in the country to receive the Premier Gold award in any NSI category and the first public sector organisation to be awarded Premier Gold for 'security and vetting'.

For further information, please contact Ian Probert at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust press office on 0117 342 3751.