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Community nurses 'fear for safety' in Croydon

Community nurses and healthcare assistants making home visits alone and out of hours in Croydon are being told that their fears for their personal safety are “exaggerated”, according to unions.

The Royal College of Nursing says Croydon Health Services has told community nurses and HCAs required to visit patients in the evening that cuts in funding mean visits could be carried out alone and not in pairs as they have done in the past.

“Nursing staff have reacted angrily to the proposal, in the light of a recent shooting and stabbing in the area,” the college said in a statement.   

One of the clinics which nurses operate from, Moreland Road, is in the same street as a recent shooting and unease has been heightened by the riots and looting in Croydon in August.

The college claims nurses and HCAs “fear for their own personal safety” while trying to visit patients.

It said it had supported college members in taking out a grievance against their employers but after initially agreeing to staff travelling in pairs after 7pm, Croydon Health Services has now retracted the offer, offering instead 8pm.

Julie Mulvey, assistant RCN officer for South West London, said: “Of course nurses understand the financial pressures on the trust, but this can never be a reason for compromising safety and putting lives at risk.

A spokeswoman for Croydon Health said the trust “appreciates the concerns raised by staff”, adding that there had been no reported incidents of community staff being assaulted in the last five years.

She said staff who attended patients at home were offered a lone worker kit, including a device that “can monitor and record conversations that staff have with patients and alert the police if required”. 

She added that around half of district nursing visits will still be carried out by two nurses – wherever the patient’s nursing needs require it – all home visits are risk assessed before being carried out, and the initial visit will continue to be done by two nurses.  

“Conflict resolution training is mandatory for all frontline staff and staff are aware of the need to report any incidences of physical or verbal abuse so that action can be taken,” she said. “Many healthcare professionals – for example the Children’s Hospital at Home team – have worked in this way in Croydon for several years and have reported no problems.”

Readers' comments (4)

  • michael stone

    “Conflict resolution training is mandatory for all frontline staff and staff are aware of the need to report any incidences of physical or verbal abuse so that action can be taken,"

    The first part of conflict training, should be to establish if you are involved in a conflict, or in a misunderstanding.

    It was clear to me, that my own area's district nurses had not received proper conflict training a couple of years ago.

    I also think, that night visits should only be undertaken by single nurses, if the nurse in question is happy to do it alone - deliberately stressing-out nurses, seems pretty stupid to me !

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  • This is just typical of the unrealistic expectations being thrust upon Nurses. Our safety means nothing to these idiots. What ever happened to Zero Tolerance?

    Good luck with the grievance and don't let the STUPID ideas of the previous, ill-formed and quite clueless commenter, and those like him, put you in harms way.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 4-Oct-2011 7:19 pm

    I am VERY concerned about the safety of district nurses - I raised this issue with my local PCT 2 years ago !

    And I wrote:

    'I also think, that night visits should only be undertaken by single nurses, if the nurse in question is happy to do it alone - deliberately stressing-out nurses, seems pretty stupid to me !'

    I am perplexed, as to why you would think that isn't correct ?

    And I am far from clueless, but I'm not going to bother to explain why I have an understanding of this issue to you, at this point.

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  • What about the Health and Safety at Work Act (1982 I believe) which clearly states that an employer has a moral and legal duty to ensure the safety of employees. There should be no quibbling whatsoever therefore if nurses themselves are fearful of making visits alone and refuse to do so. What is the PCT going to do? Sack them? I think not, because I doubt the law would look kindly on the PCT breaching the HSE in such a blatant way. All employees have the legal right to work in SAFE conditions.
    I once visited a patient in an area where rapes had occurred during daylight hours. They lived in a high rise flat. My heart was pounding until I got safely inside their door. If I had been attacked, would I have been responsible for continuing to do my job and visit the patient or would the PCT have been responsible for allowing me to?

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