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What the NHS Framework Agreement Ending Means for Lone Worker Safety

25 April 2017
 April 25, 2017
NHS Lone Worker Framework Agreement Ends April 30th
Category Lone Worker News

The existing agreement in place to help protect lone working staff within the NHS is due to expire at the end of April.

Originally set up in 2009, the NHS Lone Worker Framework Agreement was introduced to provide safer working conditions for employees working alone within the NHS and wider public sector. After renewal in 2013, NHS Protect, the hospital advisory body responsible for overseeing measures to prevent abuse have taken the decision not to extend the agreement further.

As it is an employer’s duty to ensure a safe working environment, the responsibility ultimately falls to each individual NHS Trust to take adequate measures to prevent physical abuse and injury to employees. Key elements of this include upholding a lone worker policy, carrying out regular risk assessments and supplying personal safety alarms. This applies to NHS staff covering a variety of roles, but in particular to community nurses who often visit patients at home.

Failure to uphold an employer’s Duty of Care can result in hefty fines, prosecution and even publicity orders for those found to be in breach. In the current climate, it is now more important than ever that the NHS provides sufficient protection for its employees. Official figures release by NHS Protect itself show that there has been a rise of nearly a quarter in assaults on NHS workers since 2010. Furthermore, over half of nurses are said to have experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients, with 63% claiming that they had received abuse from members of the public whilst on duty.

Just last week, news came to light that a specialist Police squad has been assigned to four major London hospitals, dedicated to safeguarding nurses and removing violent patients. This is the first time the Police have been deployed in this way and as such demonstrates the current level of risk to NHS staff.

“Nursing staff who work alone for long or even short periods of time are more vulnerable to physical and verbal abuse,” says Kim Sunley, Senior Employment Relations Adviser at the Royal College of Nursing.

“As more care is provided in the community, the number of nursing staff working alone will inevitably increase. Employers are bound by law to take appropriate measures to protect the safety of their employees.”

From April 30th NHS Trusts will have more freedom of choice to explore the options available to protect staff. It is also an opportunity to re-evaluate lone worker procedures, encouraging Trusts to invest in better protection for doctors and nurses on the front line.

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