Protecting workers in GP surgeries

invisible isolation is real and can be challenging.
A GP surgery might seem a busy environment, but invisible isolation is real and can be challenging.

To say the NHS is going through one of the most critical and challenging periods of its history is something of an understatement. The impact of coronavirus has yet to be fully understood, conditions that were not reported during the lockdown that did not go away, reports of certain areas being underfunded and overstretched, and an impending winter of discontent. The list goes on. And this all adds additional stresses to already pressurised frontline services such as GP surgeries. That pressure, on staff and patients alike, can lead to aggressive and sometimes violent behaviour. The health sector already sees one of the highest rates of violence against staff. The 2019 NHS Staff Survey showed 15% of NHS staff experienced physical violence while working. According to GPonline, one-third of GPs have felt threatened, and a sixth said they or a colleague had been attached in the past year (figures from 2018).

A GP surgery might seem a busy environment, particularly as patient emerge from lockdown, but invisible isolation is real and can be challenging. There are thousands of people who work in invisible isolation. GPs in consultation with a patient become lone workers, and will often be attending people with challenging issues such as drug or alcohol abuse. Others will 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.

The essential risk assessment

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.

Advanced technology

Enter the Safe Hub team, supported by advanced technology. Safe Hub helps healthcare lone workers in a crisis. Safe Hub connects lone workers to a state-of-the-art alarm receiving centre (ARC). High-quality, 2-way audio lets users talk directly to the ARC when they need support. Advanced GPS means we can direct emergency services to the exact location in the fastest possible time, bypassing 999 call centres. And the system is flexible, you can select the features, apps and devices to suit each member of the team.

Safe Hub is available on NHS Supply Chain Framework agreement, now extended until 31 August 2022. The Framework covers our entire range of Safe Hub lone worker safety devices and apps. We were accepted onto the Framework for Electronic Assistive Technology Products in September 2018. Since then, a number of major NHS Trusts and associated bodies have taken the opportunity to deploy Safe Hub via the Framework. This includes Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. You can read our case study about our work with Locala Community Partnerships here.

The proof of the pudding...

One of our recent deployments in the sector, which was secured through the Framework is with Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT). EPUT provides health and social care services for 1.3 million people in Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, and Luton. EPUT delivers community health, mental health and learning disability services and employs over 5,000 people across more than 200 sites, of which some 1,500 staff members are lone workers working in the community.

EPUT now deploys around 1,000 of our SOS Fob devices. SOS Fob is a BS8484:2016 Gold Certified specialist lone working device ideally suited to lone workers in the NHS and healthcare sector. Discreet, durable, waterproof and lightweight, it's designed to be convenient to wear or carry, clipping into an identification badge or a comfortable wristband. It can also be worn in an armband, belt holster, or lanyard.

At EPUT, the majority of staff using the devices are supporting patients in their own homes for their physical, or mental health care but devices are also used by staff working on a 1-1 basis with patients in clinical settings that may be isolated or with particularly high-risk patient groups. Devices have also been issued to estates staff and corporate staff who may find that they are working outside of traditional office hours in empty buildings.

Having used other devices previously, lone workers at EPUT are reporting that the SOS Fob is a much easier device to use, with intuitive buttons and LED light design. Feedback has been entirely positive, for instance about the speed with which alert calls are answered. Users also report being comfortable about cancelling false alarms if they’re triggered.

For staff in GP surgeries, Safe Hub offers an affordable, resilient and reliable protection system. Contact us today to find out more.

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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.

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