Seven injured in attack by patient at Newham hospital

The NHS is always a hot topic, whether it is funding, the level of care given or waiting lists they are never far from the top of the news bulletins.

But for those working on the front line it can at times seem like a thankless task, long hours, difficult conditions, limited facilities and the constant threat of verbal and physical attack.

Some time ago the government made it mandatory for all front line staff working in the NHS to receive Conflict Resolution training; unfortunately they didn’t necessarily make the funding (both in ‘cash’ and time) for this to take place effectively.

This incident at a hospital in London is unusual in its ferocity, but violence is sadly all too common within the NHS and occurs on a daily basis in one form or another up and down the country.

Those people who are familiar with the causes of conflict know all too well that hospitals are in a way the ‘perfect storm’ when it comes to conflict.

Without seeking to justify any incident of violence and certainly not the sickening action of the man in this case, who was reported to have used a metal bar to attack helpless staff and patients, all the factors which can lead to conflict and violence tend to be present in hospitals.

Were there a simple formula to resolving these challenges, I would already be famous across the world, the truth is the solution is not simple and the factors which will deliver a reduction in conflict throughout the NHS, take time to learn, implement and require a commitment from every employee to actively put into action with every patient.

When dealing with conflict we talk extensively about triggers, flash points, managing the gap in the customer expectation and proactive service delivery. Many of the factors which lead to conflict and the escalation process from frustration, anger and aggression to violence, manifest themselves in hospitals. Few can be easily resolved or removed, so they have to be managed with a view to reducing the potential for conflict and violence.

To manage and reduce conflict every person employed in a customer facing role from reception, security guards, porters, nursing, doctors, administrators and even staff working in the shops and cafes must be reading from the same script. They must realise that their actions, however insignificant in isolation, can endanger other members of staff indirectly. Poor service in a shop or a cleaner asking someone to move from one seat to another in the wrong way, can be a trigger which leads to violence against nursing staff down the line.

People attending hospital are invariably in a very emotional state of mind and their rational mind can in many circumstances have almost have shut down; pain fear, frustration, uncertainly, confusion, embarrassment, helplessness, pity and many more emotional stimuli can all prevent individuals from responding rationally. The resulting reaction to even minor triggers, can in turn lead to conflict and violence if poorly handled by staff who are untrained, stressed, overworked, alone, unmotivated or disinterested.

There has to be a commitment at every level within the NHS to work towards the solutions to violence. Many currently have no option or budget but to deliver the minimum training required in order to meet their legal obligations and provide a 2 hour ‘tick the box’ lecture on conflict resolution, which although better than nothing, really can never replace effective training.

Our Conflict Management and Resolution course which meets the learning outcomes outlined by the NHS Security Management Service relies on delivering effective training in small groups through role play, scenario based learning and group work, as well as examining the models which determine and deliver solution to violence in the workplace.

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Source – BBC 

Date – 15th January 2011

Submitted by – Peter Mayhew


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