Protection of Lone Workers in Community Healthcare

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2008 Health Care Service Group Conference
12 December 2007
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the vulnerability of community health care professionals whilst working autonomously in the community environment. The visibility of staff in uniform can lead to members of the public perceiving staff as carrying valuable supplies.

The lack of protection for health professionals in this environment has resulted in staff being physically & verbally attacked, threatened and stalked whilst on duty. Some incidents even occur whilst off duty. This raises the question, is enough being done to protect our NHS workers?

Conference welcomes the commitment by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in his first party conference speech that ‘community staff will be issued with personal alarms,’ as this could clearly act as a deterrent. However, we acknowledge that, when carrying equipment and taken by surprise, the member of staff’s chances of being able to sound the alarm may be slim.

Dangers to district nurses can be intensified by expectations that they carry medication that sometimes includes controlled drugs. And yet by carrying medication nurses significantly reduce patient waiting times to receive relief from pain or sickness as pharmacies are frequently unable to deliver immediately.

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)Make identifiable uniforms optional for workers, allowing them to choose according to the local circumstances of their area;

2)Seek to identify other ways of offering protection to lone workers and providing additional protection when in possession of medication or set up quick systems of medication delivery that does not involve a nurse;

3)Set national programmes of joint working for lone workers with local police, including training on personal safety & self defence in the community;

4)Seek negotiation of a Mufti Allowance where uniforms are deemed to be inappropriate in line with motion 29 (£110 per annum.)

4)Write to the Department of Health to identify when and how the personal alarms will be distributed, as well as establish the type of alarm to be provided;

5)In conjunction with the Health & Safety Unit, produce a leaflet for branches and members giving advice on what action they should take if they are injured or assaulted at work.