The NHS turns 70 in July. The largest employer in the UK, it is a behemoth of an organisation of people doing very different jobs under the giant umbrella of public healthcare. The NHS is also going through the most critical and challenging period in its history, with constant reports of overstretched and underpaid staff and departments and services being cut or shut. The health sector also sees one of the highest rates of violence against staff: recent figures show over a two-year period that there were 70,555 physical assaults against NHS staff in England. It gets worse for lone workers: the proportion of sustaining injury from a physical assault is approximately 9% higher than for those not working alone.
Lone working might not seem obvious in a busy hospital or GP surgery but 24/7 there are thousands of people who work in ‘invisible isolation’, who might be out of earshot of their nearest colleagues, or who are in roles with no direct supervision. Then you have the medical professionals travelling out into the community, from district nurses to health visitors to mental health practitioners. Each role can bring a myriad of factors and the unknown quantity of dealing with patients, family members and the general public, often in challenging or volatile situations. Given the vast scale and size of this sector, employers and line managers may be simply unaware of the situation, or unable to grasp the seeming complexity of it.
Risk assessment is a huge factor
No employee should put themselves at undue risk, or be placed in a situation that makes them feel unsafe. But how to ensure workplace safety where each day can be wildly different and unpredictable? Under the 2016 NHS standard contract, health bodies have general responsibilities to manage the safety and security of all those who work in the NHS, but day-to-day responsibility for safe working policies and procedures often falls to the line managers. Accountability for personal safety has to come from both sides, but when you’ve got a workforce who is already doing demanding, multi-tasking jobs, it can feel like one more thing to have to think about.
This is where Safe Hub and team technology steps in. We already provide our award-winning lone protection system to a number of NHS services and last year we were awarded a five-year contract to protect lone workers at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust. The trust chose our SOS Fob as the main device, which is designed to be user-friendly, discreet, durable and convenient. It features a prominent SOS button to trigger a Red Alert in an emergency and its high-quality 2-way audio allows users to speak with operatives at the Alarm Receiving Centre. A secondary call button allows lone workers to leave a Yellow Alert message with task- and location-specific information, which could save valuable time in an emergency. If a fall is detected by its built-in motion and shock sensors, the device can automatically raise an alert with our Worker Down feature.
There’s an app for that
Additionally, we deployed our Safe Hub mobile phone app alongside the SOS Fob for those lone workers who wanted to continue to use their own devices. Our interval-based welfare function, Safe Check, is also particularly useful in the health sector for lone workers visiting service users in their own homes. Meanwhile, Group Alert allows line managers to communicate tailored messages to lone workers about extreme weather, heavy traffic or terror alerts. For the 1,500 lone workers at Colchester, they can go about their job at all times knowing that they are protected. NHS and health workers look after other people’s welfare for a living but they still need their own welfare looked after - that’s where Safe Hub steps in.
Contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today
Post by George Stavrinidis
George is Chief Executive Officer of Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He believes passionately that everyone should be protected and supported at work. George supports LWS clients to make sure they enjoy the most effective relationship with the team and maximise the effectiveness of their deployment of Safe Hub.
About Lone Worker Solutions
At Lone Worker Solutions, it’s our business to protect employees, managers and shareholders from the risks associated with working alone. This includes the potential hazards faced by staff who work by themselves, remotely, or out-of-sight or earshot of colleagues. When it comes to safety we don't believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; instead, we tailor our solution to each organisation's exact needs.
About Safe Hub
Safe Hub is an award-winning package of emergency, buddy, proactive, reactive, broadcast and virtual barrier protection for lone workers. Safe Hub supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of BS8484:2016 Gold Certified devices, including Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, BlackBerrys, standard mobiles, PCs, intrinsically safe devices, specialist personal safety devices and satellite phones.