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April 6, 2009

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Fund opens to combat attacks on NHS staff

Half a million pounds has been set aside to help tackle violence

against health-care staff, as part of a new financial reserve launched

yesterday (6 April) by the Scottish Government.

The £1.5 million Working Well Challenge Fund is open to all NHS boards who wish to apply for additional funds to undertake new work to promote and enhance the well-being of their staff. A third of this capital is specifically set aside for projects to reduce aggression and violence against health-care workers.

Results from the latest NHSScotland Staff Survey, published in January, showed that 18 per cent of respondees had experienced a violent incident in the previous 12 months — 10 per cent fewer respondees than the last survey in 2006. Nevertheless, the Fund is a sign that the Scottish Government recognises there is a need to do more to protect health-care staff from assault.

The broader aims of the Fund are to prioritise projects that:

  • create a better working environment;
  • increase the engagement and commitment of NHS staff;
  • address issues that affect the health, well-being and safety of staff;
  • encourage NHS boards to work collaboratively to develop innovative and effective ways of maximising staff potential; and
  • promote good practice, which is capable of being replicated.

Public health minister, Shona Robison, explained: “We are looking for novel proposals, which go over and above work already underway by NHS boards across Scotland under their responsibilities for the well-being of their employees.

“Ideas could include, for example, training to help staff anticipate and react appropriately to violent incidents; information and awareness-raising campaigns to promote public-health messages; or measures to encourage the uptake of staff benefits and services.”

Norman Provan, associate director for employment relations at the Royal College of Nursing Scotland welcomed the funding: “While the results from the NHSScotland survey earlier this year showed an improvement, almost one in five staff still experience violence or aggression at their place of work. Such incidents not only impact on the individuals concerned but on colleagues, families, and patient care.
“We very much hope that Health boards will take advantage of this funding to address these issues. Health boards and managers need to be more proactive, listen to their staff, and change the workplace culture. We hope this funding will help contribute positively to the health and well-being of NHS employees.”

Applications can be submitted by NHSScotland boards, or by a board working with other partners. For collaborative bids, the lead applicant must be an NHSScotland board.

The closing date for applications is 15 May 2009, and awards will be announced in June 2009.

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