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More NHS providers are breaking health and safety laws on protecting their staff from assault than are actually meeting them, figures released to HSJ reveal.

We reported last month that the Health and Safety Executive was inspecting a batch of health and care providers, because the sector sees a higher level of violence than most, including several staff being killed in recent years.

New information released to us has revealed that, once the HSE inspectors arrive, in two thirds of cases they find that laws aimed at protecting staff from violence and aggression are being breached.

It has inspected 37 NHS organisations since April 2018 and found 25 of them – 67 per cent – were in breach of these laws.

Issues with manual handling procedures were also found as just over half of the providers were also breaking the law aimed at protecting staff from musculoskeletal disorders.

At one trust, the HSE found policies for violence and aggression, lone workers and safe handling “do not identify high risk locations, tasks or roles” and had “inconsistent” procedures for responding to panic alarms.

The level of assaults on NHS staff has been an issue of growing concern — HSJ highlighted it in a special report in 2018 — especially for some services, such as ambulance crews, mental health services, and those working in people’s homes.

Let’s hope some real improvement stems from the HSE’s interventions, rather than it simply spurring a fresh round of paperwork and box-ticking.

Forgotten your password?

“Getting the basics right” is a phrase often heard when NHS staff are asked how technology can help them in their jobs.

This message has filtered through to NHSX, which looks set to place a far greater focus on fixing trusts’ existing infrastructure, moving away from the previous approach of supporting the most digitally advanced trusts to lead the way with their flashy solutions, as per the “global digital exemplar” programme.

An early example of this can be seen in the Department of Health and Social Care’s announcement over the weekend, which set out plans to spend £40m on improving login times for staff across the provider landscape.

The DHSC said staff currently face logging in to as many as 15 different systems within their organisation to access records and information, which Mr Hancock described as “frankly ridiculous”.

This results in staff either needing to remember multiple different passwords (as though we don’t have enough of these in our private lives) or use one or two for every system. The latter results in increased security risks.

Details of how the money will be distributed and what this means for trusts which already have single sign-on systems in place remain to be seen. 

Meanwhile, Daily Insight expects to see further funding pledges made in 2020 to tackle other IT “basics” within the health service.