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Four ways healthcare facilities are combatting workplace violence



Recorded incidents involving physical violence and abuse are not uncommon in UK-based healthcare institutions.

According to the 2022 NHS Staff Survey, almost 15 per cent of healthcare professionals experienced at least one incident of physical violence during the previous 12 months, with almost 30 per cent of staff experiencing some form of harassment, bullying or abuse.

While a majority of NHS patients and service users do treat medical staff with respect, these figures are simply too high to be ignored by leaders, especially at a time when resource and staffing shortages are impacting the quality of service that professionals are able to provide.

Thankfully, these issues can be identified and addressed across all levels of service with the aid of modern technology and considered safety policies.

To learn more about this, here are 4 ways UK healthcare facilities are combatting workplace violence, harassment and abuse.

1. Smart video security

CCTV cameras and commercial security camera systems are already commonplace in UK healthcare facilities, but legacy systems that require manual monitoring may be ineffective in terms of preemptively detecting threats.

For this reason, investments into AI-powered video analytics systems are being considered to assist security teams in identifying potential risks.

AI analytics software can be integrated into existing surveillance systems, and programmed to autonomously detect stimuli consistent with predetermined threats.

For example, persons carrying contraband items, suspicious vehicles or individuals acting erratically.

Alerts can be sent to security staff if these actions are identified, enabling them to respond more efficiently.

2. Access control systems

Healthcare professionals must be provided safe spaces within their facilities to act as a form of separation between staff and unfolding acts of violence.

Private areas in hospitals must be secured using access control systems, though effective solutions require intelligent features.

To ensure staff are able to enter safe locations quickly, and to limit the risk of unauthorised persons stealing valid credentials, advanced features like biometric identification and mobile credentials should be considered.

These features provide staff with a fast and reliable way to access safe spaces, while also being much more difficult to copy than keys, cards and fobs.

3. Incident reporting solutions

For security staff to enact swift and appropriate responses to suspected threats before they can escalate into acts of violence, healthcare professionals must have access to an efficient incident reporting system.

Modern software systems integrated into handheld smart devices allow staff to quickly send alerts discreetly, with supporting information like videos or images.

In addition, many healthcare facilities utilise personal panic buttons.

Standalone devices can be worn by the user and pressed when assistance is needed, while digital solutions may be combined with incident reporting software to be accessed via a smart device.

When pressed, an instant alert containing time and location data is sent to authorities to provide a response.

4. De-escalation training

Alongside security technologies used to improve threat detection and incident responses, healthcare professionals are being trained to combat workplace violence using practical strategies.

In particular, de-escalation techniques can be an effective way to mitigate risks using purposeful actions and communications to calm aggressors while waiting for support.

Staff are taught how to rephrase certain responses to neutralise aggressive language, for example, rather than giving straight instructions like “I can’t help you”, it can help to provide options by saying “I want to help, what can I do?”.

Some studies in the US have shown that utilising such techniques can reduce the occurrence of violent incidents by as much as 36 per cent.


Incidents of violence and abuse aimed towards healthcare professionals have unfortunately become all too common in UK-based medical facilities, leaving teams unable to provide the quality of care that they’d like to.

Management must explore the use of smart technologies and safety policies to combat workplace violence and protect staff from escalating threats.

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