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Keeping safe as a healthcare professional working alone

Ian Snug



The NMC Code states that you should take account of your own personal safety as well as those you care for.

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As nurses we could find ourselves in a dangerous or potentially compromising situation. It’s important we take steps to keep both ourselves and our patients safe.

There are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of danger and harm when working alone – it doesn’t matter if that is in the community, in accident and emergency or in the hospital.

The Royal College of Nursing provide a quick reference guide on keeping safe when working alone.

Keep your phone nearby

You should always have a way to call for help if you need it. Keeping your mobile phone nearby will allow you to contact fellow colleagues or the emergency services should you need assistance.

Share your location

Make sure you communicate your location to other members of your team. Ensure they know where you’re going, what your going to do and when they should expect to see you again.

Use alarm systems

Your employer has a duty to keep you safe. Lone workers should be issued with an alarm systems or a way to call for help if you need it.

Look at your surroundings

Is there anything around which is a cause for alarm? Is there something that could be used as a weapon, a dangerous animal, somebody being verbally or physically aggressive? Think about how you will get out if things get difficult. Make an excuse to leave early and call for help.

Make an excuse to leave

If you feel in danger withdraw to a place of safety. If you feel the situation escalating, use strategies to remove yourself. For example, “I just have to pop back to the car to get some notes” or “I just have to go to the other room to get some equipment”.


London Metropolitan Police advice is to; RUN – to find a safe place, HIDE – somewhere where your attacker can’t get to or find you and TELL – call 999.

Your own safety is paramount. It is vitally important that you do not try to deal with a potential attacker alone – call for help.

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Primary Care

NHS trusts pressuring staff to help meet vaccination targets

Sarah J



Front-line staff are reporting that NHS trusts are pressuring staff into receiving the influenza vaccine in order to achieve governmental targets.

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Front-line NHS staff claim they are getting ever-increasing pressure to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine as cash-strapped NHS trusts strive to hit the ‘Flu Fighter’ CQUIN, which provides significant financial incentives for trusts who vaccinate a proportion of their staff.

This news follows last weeks announcement that NHS England will write to all healthcare workers reminding them of their “professional duty” to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine.

One member of staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims she was forced to sign a ‘Declination of Influenza Vaccine‘ document by their NHS Trust which states refusal of the vaccine may have ‘life-threatening’ consequences and asks for the reason for refusal.

A spokesperson for NursingNotes said;

“While receiving the vaccine is an important part of infection control, like any patient, staff must provide informed consent and have a right to refuse the vaccination”.

A spokesperson for the RCN said:

“We encourage all nursing staff to have the vaccine. It plays an important part in infection control and preventing sickness absence”.

The NHS Employers ‘Flu Fighter’ campaign is part of an initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS employees.

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Patients could be banned from A&E unless a healthcare professional refers them

Ian Snug



The “talk before you walk” scheme could see patients barred from using A&E without first seeking healthcare advice elsewhere.

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Under “talk before you walk” proposals, patients would need to gain approval from either their GP or the NHS 111 advice line before self-presenting to an accident and emergency department and could be turned away without this.

The scheme is intended to improve compliance of the 4-hour target by sign-posting patients to more appropriate services.

The news comes as health services prepare, for what many experts claim will be, the “worst winter on record” for emergency care services.

Dr Helen Thomas, National Medical Advisor for Integrated Urgent Care at NHS England, said:

“Jeremy Hunt has mentioned to some of my colleagues, maybe we should have a ‘talk before you walk’ and we may well pilot that.

“I think it’s been done in other countries where they’ve actually said you can’t come to the emergency department until you’ve talked on referral or you have to have that sort of docket that you’re given by having talked down the phone and being told you should come in.”

But the British Medical Association (BMA) said forcing ill patients to go through an extra layer of bureaucracy would cause further delays and could compromise emergency care pathways.

A spokesman for NHS England said there were no current plans to go ahead with the scheme.

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