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NAHS webinar: ‘this is our moment’

This afternoon’s OSPAs thought leadership webinar was, arguably, the most informative yet, writes Mark Rowe. While it’s never right to rank them – today’s was, remarkably, the 71st of the year – it was certainly the fullest, and a special one, for it formed part of the NAHS (National Association for Healthcare Security, pronounced Nars).

The UK association has lately held its annual conference in Birmingham; for 2020 the event including AGM ran online. Prof Martin Gill, the OSPAs founder and chair of the webinars, first gave a 15-minute run-through of what the webinars have thrown up since March 31, and his work as an academic criminologist. He began with the arresting statement ‘I have been doing an extensive amount of shoplifting’. He did qualify that; by adding that he is employed with ex-offenders by retailers to try to steal from stores, to see how crime prevention measures work; and if he is caught, he literally has a ‘get out of jail card’.

Martin then chaired a panel of three – from the United States, the long-time healthcare security manager and association stalwart (a former president of ASIS International) Bonnie Michelman, executive director of Police, Security and Outside Services at Massachusetts General Hospital. And in the UK, the former chairman of NAHS, Jayne King, who’s now gone upstairs to be the association’s president; another one of the worryingly few people who give time voluntarily (besides their day job; Jayne is head of security at Guy’s and St Thomas’, pictured) to further the industry, for example as a member of the UK umbrella body the Security Commonwealth; and a former ASIS UK chairman, the long-time security manager, these days director of assurance at the contractor Mitie, Barrie Millett.

What Bonnie and Jayne as the two healthcare specialists on the panel had to say of working during the months of pandemic had much in common – to only name one of the operational security issues and psychological questions posed to all staff, as indeed of patients and visitors: workplace violence, which went down during the first, spring lockdown when hospitals restricted access drastically, but back since to pre-covid levels; not least as people feel anger, frustrated and may have ‘covid fatigue’. Healthcare security like other staff have had to be agile during the pandemic – hospitals setting up a ‘labour pool’ so that plumbers might learn to wash dishes, for example. Managers have had to plan for scenarios; and manage problems such as guarding PPE including hand sanitiser (from theft) and such non-healthcare things as facing reduced public transport, making it harder for staff to get to work.

For all those operational and morale issues it was striking and hopeful that speakers looked forward, and not only to the prospect of a vaccine. Jayne King said: “Our people have come into work day in, day out, contract and in-house staff, here 24-7, no furlough; our security staff, totally on the front line, giving it their all; I couldn’t be prouder of them.

“Personally, I think this is our moment; healthcare security, this is our time, and it’s up to us as the industry leaders; it’s about making sure our staff have the skills, that they are professional. We have to live up to that title [officers, rather than guards] as us managers have to drive this agenda forward. We need to create the next generation of staff, we need to make sure that apart from the practical skills, that there are the educational pathways for people and to professionalise healthcare security. We are in charge of this, we need to make this happen.”

Earlier, after the morning AGM, the acting chief exec of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), Michelle Russell, spoke; followed by a panel on managing risk, including the trainer, consultant and founder last year of the ISRM (Institute of Strategic Risk Management) Dr David Rubens.

Wrapping up the day with Jayne King was the new chair, Roger Ringham; a former police detective now head of service for the not for profit body SAFE (Security and Fraud Experts).

More in the December 2020 print edition of Professional Security magazine.

About the webinars

You can watch previous webinars freely through the OSPAs website. They usually run each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon; and the next, on November 17, covers ‘what does security have to shout about’, and ‘how does it do that?’. The panel will include Professional Security magazine MD Roy Cooper. Visit https://theospas.com/thought-leadership-webinars/.


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