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GPs go forth

GPs to miss out on attack alarms

By Ian Quinn

Thousands of GPs will miss out on receiving personal attack alarms, despite a £97m Government pledge to crack down on violence against NHS staff in the community.

Pulse has learnt that individual PCTs will decide how to distribute new high tech devices, given the go ahead by Health Secretary Alan Johnson to tackle violence against front line 'lone workers' in the NHS.

But only 30,000 of the alarms, which will be fitted to staff badges enabling wearers to press a panic button in the event of an attack, will be sent out in total to cover all NHS staff falling under the category, meaning many GPs will have lesser safeguards.

Despite November being designated as NHS Security month, the best most GPs will get is a leaflet giving some basic tips on security, as well as a pledge that soon all PCTs will have their own security manager, covering all practices and other primary care facilities.

But Richard Hampton, head of the NHS Security Management Service, said even those GPs who did eventually get alarms should not see them as ‘a suit of armour', adding instead they should instead have a zero tolerance policy against accepting violent patients and get better at reporting incidents.

In August, a Pulse survey found that one in three GPs had been physically attacked by a patient during their career and in 60% cases they did not report the last act of violence against them.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said it was consulting with PCTs about how its £68m battle against violence would operate in practice but asked to comment on whether GPs would get attack alarms said: 'We don't know', adding their was no date for a decision.

Other Government proposals include training in personal safety, conflict resolution and dealing with verbal abuse, a plan for more funding to increase the number of prosecutions of cases where staff are assaulted and a centralised reporting system so that the NHS Security Management Service can identify poor performing Trusts and analyse security weaknesses.

Over 58,000 NHS staff were physically assaulted by patients and relatives in England in 2005-06 alone.

Violent patient

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