A self-defence training programme for the health service, pioneered by an
accident and emergency consultant, is being examined by the Health and Safety
Anthony Bleetman, a consultant at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, developed
the programme with the help of police for staff facing violent patients.
Hospitals topped the list of most dangerous workplaces in a survey published
last year by the TUC. The study found nurses faced the greatest risk of
violence at work, with one in three reporting some kind of attack.
Mr Bleetman has met with the HSE to discuss the scheme, which is based on
the "confidence resolution" model used by police. It includes
instruction on physical skills, such as how to block blows, but also covers
communication skills, awareness of how a violent situation may develop and
techniques for defusing trouble.
Mr Bleetman said self-defence techniques are always a last resort. "You
only use physical force if there are signs of trouble; if you cannot get away
or call for help and you are concerned you or your colleagues will get
Giselle Lockett, organisational and development manager at Heartlands, said
accident and emergency staff were particularly vulnerable to attacks.
She said the hospital is also looking to build aspects of Mr Bleetman’s programme
into its general staff training. "We are looking at how we can take things
forward with a strategy encompassing the best of each."
An HSE spokesman said the meeting with Mr Bleetman was one of a number aimed
at developing strategy and described it as "useful".