Violent patients refused care under new powers for healthcare staff

NHS
staff are to be given new powers to refuse treatment to violent and abusive
patients.

The
move is part of new national guidelines that aim to balance the need to protect
employees with the duty to provide healthcare.

Verbal
threats, violence, vandalism and drug and alcohol abuse will all be grounds for
refusing treatment.

However,
patients with severe mental health problems or suffering life-threatening
conditions will not be denied care.

Patients
will be issued a verbal and written warning before treatment is withheld.
However, if under threat of immediate danger, staff may make an on-the-spot
decision to refuse treatment.

"Withholding
treatment should only ever be a last resort and must be subject to stringent
safeguards. The guidelines set out the circumstances where the withholding of
treatment will be inappropriate, such as when a patient requires emergency
treatment or is not competent to take responsibility for their actions,"
said Health Secretary Alan Milburn. 

www.pm.gov.uk

By Paul Nelson

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