NHS and designers in hospital A&E trial

Thursday, 03 March, 2011

Designers to tackle violence

With increasing reports of violence and aggression against Ambulance and NHS staff estimated to cost in the region of £69 million there could at last be some improvements on the way when you are in or around A&E departments.

Designers are to rethink the design of hospital Accident and Emergency departments in a bid to develop innovative new ways to reduce violence and aggression. A year long project,
'Reducing violence and aggression in A&E by design' is being run by the Design Council, and has been commissioned by the Department of Health.

The project will involve designers, architects, healthcare experts, patients and frontline NHS staff working together to develop and trial potential solutions. Three hospitals are being trialled and if successful it could roll out across England.

The solutions will include:

• Changes to interior design, such as redesigning layout and use of space, or introducing
new products and furniture.

• Improvements to information given to patients and their families.

• Redesigned clinical and non-clinical services and systems.

A NHS staff survey from the Care Quality Commission in 2009 revealed that 11 per cent of staff experienced physical violence from patients or their families in the previous year. Figures from the NHS Security Management Service also show that in 2009/10 there were over 150 reported physical assaults per day on healthcare staff a total of 56,718 physical assaults in England.

The problem is particularly difficult to handle in the complex, high-pressure environment of Accident and Emergency. Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS said: "NHS staff save lives every day and are committed to providing the best possible service to patients. It is completely unacceptable for them to be assaulted or work in fear of being physically or verbally abused.

"There is a substantial financial and human cost to violence against staff and I look forward to seeing the results of this project which will help A&E departments become calmer, safer and more productive environments."

Return to news menu