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Lone worker protection mapped

As NHS workers are becoming more mobile and provide more services in the community, NHS Protect has completed a survey of lone worker protection across the NHS in England. The NHS’ security management body found wide variance in provision by employers.

For the 32-page ‘mapping’ report of lone worker device (LWD) use, visit

Sue Frith, managing director of NHS Protect, said: “We needed a comprehensive overview of the full range of lone worker protection systems and user groups out there in the NHS. This refreshes our understanding of the fast-changing lone worker services market and will inform important decisions in the years ahead. The level of response was excellent, especially from acute trusts, mental health trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups.”

Over 2000 stakeholders in the NHS were contacted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and over 700 commissioned services were invited by NHS Protect to complete the survey. Data was collected from January to April 2015; the exercise was approved by the Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI).

Among the findings are:

– Badge holder type lone worker devices (over 60pc of the NHS market) remain more popular than key fob devices.
– Use of mobile phones for lone work is steadily rising.
– Occupational therapists and community health staff are shown as the highest users of management systems and alarms.
– Different sectors experience very different levels of assaults on workers. The sector with the lowest number of assaults (acute) has the highest usage of devices (73.83 per cent), but many other factors may be contributing to this figure.
– The ambulance sector has the lowest rate of lone worker device usage (41.67pc).
– The mental health sector (where NHS staff suffer the highest assault rate at 223 per 1000) does not have a higher rate of lone worker device usage to reflect this.
– In their lone worker protection planning for the next two years, most NHS organisations are looking at lone worker devices (41pc), training (40pc), management systems (28pc) and CCTV (31pc).

The lowest level of intention to improve lone worker protection is found among organisations with the lowest level of current protection, (29.4pc for no devices versus 52.9pc for some devices). According to NHS Protect there is a risk that the majority improve protection but a few organisations retain an insufficient level of protection without the desire to improve. Employers identified their main barriers to improving lone worker protection in the near future as being lack of funding (61.8pc) and lack of resources available (43.4pc).

Sue Frith added: “These findings suggest that there is more work to do so that the importance of lone worker protection is recognised and to ensure that a range of solutions are available. The national picture is that there are holes in the NHS safety net for lone workers. Employers in the NHS will continue to have our full support to fix them.”

Kim Sunley, Senior Employment Relations Adviser, Royal College of Nursing, warned: “Many employers are saying the right things and have the right policies, but what is really needed is for those policies to be a reality in practice.” See separate article on RCN survey.


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