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April 5, 2011

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New NHS body takes on staff-protection responsibilities

A new NHS service has been launched aimed at protecting health-care staff and resources from crime.

Called NHS Protect, the new body effectively supercedes the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service (CFSMS), and will ensure that the most appropriate anti-crime arrangements are put in place across the reformed NHS.

The Government’s shake-up of the NHS aims to improve health-care outcomes by increasing local autonomy and accountability, and cutting bureaucracy.

Along with responsibility for tackling fraud, bribery, corruption, criminal damage, and theft, NHS Protect aims to build on the work of the NHS CFSMS by protecting staff from incidents of violence, harassment and abuse.

With resources being squeezed, the body will look to deliver on this promise by working with other stakeholders. It will, for example:

  • encourage stronger links between NHS organisations, the Police and other agencies;
  • expect NHS organisations to work together to develop anti-crime initiatives, and in partnership with others, including the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, local authorities and community groups;
  • provide free legal advice for NHS organisations to assist with cases involving violence, harassment and abuse;
  • bring prosecutions in partnership with the Police and CPS; and
  • take action independently where the Police and CPS decline to act.

Outlining the approach to tackling crime against the health service, NHS Protect’s managing director, Dermid McCausland, said: “By managing information and intelligence from all parts of the NHS and sharing this data as required, we can target and coordinate our work to best effect, as well as providing increased levels of support, guidance and direction for local NHS bodies.

“This joined-up approach to tackling crime in the NHS will enable the proper use of valuable NHS resources to create a safer, more secure environment in which to deliver and receive NHS care.”

The Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive, Dr Peter Carter, welcomed the launch of the new body but warned that it could face a difficult challenge at a time of cut-backs.

He said: “All NHS employers need to ensure that they take all necessary steps to protect their staff from violence and abuse, and we hope that NHS Protect will support this very strongly. As more and more parts of the NHS face pressures from cut-backs, tensions could rise, and this could become even more important. The NHS should be tough on the perpetrators of assaults, as well as ensuring that crime does not jeopardise patient care.”

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