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Patients 'feel under threat' at Brighton hospital
3:10pm Wednesday 6th February 2013 in News
People using a hospital accident and emergency department feel more threatened by other patients and visitors than almost anywhere else in the country.
Bosses at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton are hoping a high profile security presence introduced at busy times will help provide reassurance.
A national survey of A&E patients carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) revealed Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust scored the lowest of any trust for people feeling threatened by other patients and visitors while in A&E.
The Royal Sussex deals with large numbers of people coming in with drink and drug related problems, particularly at weekends.
Although the actual number of incidents is low, there was a high perception among patients and visitors that they may be attacked or verbally abused.
The trust received a score of 8.8 out of 10 when it came to patients feeling threatened, placing it in the worst performing category when compared to other organisations.
A trial scheme was introduced last year which makes sure a member of the trust’s security team is evident in the department three nights a week.
The cost and benefits of the scheme is now being assessed and reviewed by hospital bosses, who are hoping to keep it going, particularly during the department's busiest times.
A report to the trust board said incidents had reduced significantly since the additional security was put in place last year.
Extra training is also being given to staff to help them recognise and manage potential problems and stop them escalate.
The trust, which also runs the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, among others, reported 172 physical assaults on its staff between April 2011 and March 2012.
This was a rise on the 160 reported the year before.
Five of the assaults led to criminal sanctions and the trust is working with Sussex Police to deal with incidents appropriately.
Many of the assaults are relatively low level, such as pinching or scratching, and often linked to dementia or confusion.
A trust spokesman said: “We keep the level of security provision across our sites under review and by directly employing our own security staff we are able to anticipate the level of support clinical areas require and respond as quickly as possible when situations occur.
“The provision of a high profile security presence in A&E at the Royal Sussex is just one example of this flexible approach and was introduced prior to the findings of the CQC A&E patient survey being shared with the security managers.”
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