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Lone workers still waiting for personal alarms

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Community nurses still do not have access to personal safety alarms when working alone in the community, NT can reveal.

An exclusive NT survey found that 80% of community nurses had yet to receive an alarm despite a government pledge to issue them three years ago.

In March 2005 then health secretary John Reid promised that staff who worked alone in the community would each be given a safety alarm.

In September 2007 the current health secretary Alan Johnson reiterated this pledge. He announced£97m to ‘boost the NHS security budget’, of which£29m would be spent on safety alarms.

At the time Mr Johnson said: ‘There is no more important resource for the NHS than the staff who work for it. But too many suffer harassment, intimidation and violence.’

The government is now understood to be tendering for a private company to supply 30,000 alarms by April 2009.

Anne Duffy, chief executive of the Community District Nurses Association, said: ‘These alarms should have been introduced a long time ago and I think that just giving alarms is not going to be enough. Community nurses need some kind of global satellite positioning device to track exactly where they are and get help to them as quickly as possible when they need it.’

Richard Hampton, head of the NHS security management service (SMS), told NT that trusts should not wait until next April to buy personal safety technology for their staff. ‘If a health body has identified a need to protect their staff they should be providing it now,’ he said.

The survey findings also show that 86% of respondents feel that they need more protection when doing their job and nearly 90% fear nurses will be at risk unless they are given safety training before delivering more care in the community.

The findings also reveal that 63% of nurses are afraid of knife crime and 43% want to wear stab vests in the appropriate circumstances.

See Feature

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Readers' comments (1)

  • What a shambolic mess the NHS is in. Back in the mid to late 80's, organisations such as the RCN were identifying the risks associated with community nursing staff and the need for alarms. 20 years on and we appear to be no further forward.

    But then it is only the staff who are at risk, so what more can we expect from the government, they don't care, because they are only responsible short term. What concerns me even more, is what have the trade unions been doing over the last 20 years about this vulnerable group of staff?

    There appears to be a lack of will amongst the trade unions to ensure that issue's that they raise are resolved in the interest of their members, in a resonable time frame and this leaves politicians free to delay implementing the necessary action.

    From the time this problem was first raised, the society that we live in has become more violent and nurses are still left exposed to real danger.

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