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Funding boost for attack alarms

NHS staff are to be given personal safety alarms if they need them as part of a £97m boost to the security budget, it has been announced.

In 2004, the-then health secretary John Reid announced the availability of a similar device to allow NHS staff working alone to raise the alarm if they needed help.

But a survey for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in July revealed that just 3% of nurses who could benefit from the scheme had been given them.

Now £29m is to be spent on 30,000 safety alarms for lone workers that can also help locate the user and link to a trained individual.

The remaining £68m will go towards schemes such as personal safety training, more local security staff, a drive to improve prosecution rates for people who attack workers, and a centralised reporting system so the NHS Security Management Service can identify poor performing trusts.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "Over 58,000 NHS staff were physically assaulted by patients and relatives in England in 2005-06.

"This is completely unacceptable. NHS staff working alone and in the community are particularly at risk. Thanks to these safety alarms they will know that help is at hand.

"Although we have seen a 16-fold increase in prosecutions since 2003, more needs to be done. Anybody who abuses our staff must face tough action and the possibility of jail."

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Department Of Health

Related story: Not alone - safety issues for lone workers