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Plan to tackle A&E aggression with design


Can better design reduce violence in A&E settings?

The government is enlisting the support of designers in its latest bid to reduce violence and aggression towards staff working in accident and emergency departments.

The Design Council has launched a search for design teams to work with A&E staff at three trusts – Guys and St Thomas’, Chesterfield Royal Hospital and Southampton University Hospitals –to develop innovative ways to reduce violence by redesigning layouts or introducing new furniture.

The year-long project – “Reducing violence and aggression in A and E by design” – has been commissioned by the Department of Health

Figures from the NHS Security Management Service show that in 2009-10 there were over 150 reported physical assaults per day on healthcare staff in England.

Professor Matthew Cooke, national clinical director for urgent and emergency care at the Department of Health, said: “As an A&E consultant, I have witnessed the effect of violence on colleagues.

“Verbal abuse is a daily occurrence and unfortunately physical violence against staff is not rare. This violence also increases the anxiety of other patients and their families in the emergency department at a time when they need a calm atmosphere to aid their recovery from their illness.”

“Better design can help reduce violence and reduce its adverse effects. I look forward to seeing the results of this project that will not only make work safer for my colleagues but also enable us to provide better care for our patients.”

Design teams will be invited to submit a proposal on how they would approach the challenge, with solutions which will offer good value for money, and could significantly reduce the financial and human cost of violence against staff.

The winning designs will be showcased in October. Pictured are images from the Design Council’s call for entries.


Can better design reduce violence in A&E settings?

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Readers' comments (3)

  • You couldn't make rubbish like this up could you? Painting a waiting room pink isn't going to calm anyones nerves when they're having to sit and wait for 5 hours. Why not use the huge amounts they'll be paying these designers and use the money to buy security staff and measures or to fund more nurses.

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  • Most A and E units are functional ultilitarian spaces for processing patients. It would be nicer for patents and staff if they were designed to be inpirational buildings with natural light, plant and water features.

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  • Looks like another false economy.

    I think money could be far better spent on developing the idea of separating potentially aggressive or violent patients with substance dependence disorders by sending them to a separate dedicated facility with specialist staff. I believe that this would be far more satisfactory for all concerned and would reduce the waiting time for urgent and serious cases.

    Patients with mental health problems who are admitted for emergency treatment and also have a propensity towards violent behaviour should have adequate psychiatric facilities available to them where they can be adequately and professionally assessed and receive any treatment they may need more promptly.

    Poor treatment and feeing misunderstood in a busy A&E department leads to uncertainty, mistrust, fear and eventually may lead to anger and aggression, which needs to be dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner to prevent escalation of the situation and further harm to the patient, the staff and other patients through delays in treatment and as a result of such disruptive behaviour which needs more rapid attention and/or intervention.

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