New team helps protect mental health staff from violence


Dale Spridgeon

A DEDICATED team of specialist nurses is helping to reduce the number of mental health staff in North Wales who are subjected to violence and aggression at work.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has seen a 12 per cent reduction in the number of mental health staff who have been subjected to violence or aggression in the last three years.

The figures represent a stark contrast with the NHS in England, where the result of Freedom of Information requests submitted to NHS bodies by the BBC showed incidences of violence and aggression towards mental health staff have increased by more than 25 per cent in the last four years.

The reduction in North Wales has been attributed to the work of a dedicated team of Violence & Aggression Specialist Nurses, who are now leading national work to address the problem with Health Boards across Wales.

The four strong team lead preventative work that includes the establishment of person centred behaviour support plans for at risk patients, and violence and aggression training for frontline mental health staff.

The team also work with patients and their families after an incident, and help coordinate the range of ongoing support available to affected staff.

Gareth Owen, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Violence and Aggression, said: “As our team has expanded in recent years we have been able to work much more proactively to prevent incidences of violence and aggression from happening in the first place.

“We’re currently leading a group of clinicians to establish national guidelines on the management of violence and aggression towards mental health staff in Wales.”

More than two thirds of all incidences of violence and aggression towards BCUHB staff over the past three years took place in mental health services.

“Sadly, people who suffer from mental health problems are more likely to have experiences which can contribute towards behaviours which are deemed unacceptable,” added Gareth.

“Often incidence of violence and aggression can be directly driven by a clinical condition or acute disturbance of mental state, sometimes they are not.”


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