The NHS must review measures to protect nursing staff in light of the rioting sweeping across urban England, the Royal College of Nursing said today.
The college said it was particularly concerned about the safety of lone nurses working night shifts in community settings.
In a statement, the RCN said that “in the face of continuing civil disturbance in London and other inner-city areas” it expected healthcare organisations to be “reviewing risk assessments and measures to protect the safety of staff, especially community nursing staff working alone on evening or twilight shifts”.
The college noted that under the terms of the Employment Rights Act, employees could “withdraw from the work situation to a place of safety if they feel they are facing ‘serious or imminent danger’”.
The RCN statement follows joint guidance issued yesterday morning by the strategic health authority NHS London and the Londonwide Local Medical Council, which represents GPs in the capital.
It said the safety of GP practice staff safety was “paramount” and closing practices was “a realistic decision for practices to make and take” depending on local circumstances.
However, the advice was updated in the evening when the LMC and SHA should it was anticipated that calm would be restored to London overnight and, therefore, practices should “prepare to open as usual” today, unless advised not to by police.
Despite the relative calm in the capital, ambulances came under attack from missile throwing youths in Manchester and the West Midlands last night as the trouble spread.