This site is intended for health professionals only

Nearly a quarter of mental health lone workers are assaulted

Nearly a quarter (22%) of lone workers in the mental health sector have been assaulted, an NHS Protect survey revealed.

The survey suggested that higher lone worker device use (badge holders, key fobs, mobile phones) correlates with a lower assault rate on staff.

In the mental health sector there was a low rate of lone worker device usage, whereas the sector with the lowest number of assaults (acute) had the highest usage of devices (74%).

Sue Frith, managing director of NHS Protect, said: “These findings suggest that there is more work to do so that the importance of lone worker protection is recognised and to ensure that a range of solutions are available. The national picture is that there are holes in the NHS safety net for lone workers. Employers in the NHS will continue to have our full support to fix them.”

Badge holder type devices are used by over 60% of lone workers and remain more popular than key fob devices, however the use of mobile phones for lone work is steadily increasing.

Occupational therapists and community health staff are shown as the highest users of management systems and alarm type solutions.

Planning lone worker protection for the next two years, most NHS organisations are looking at lone worker devices (41%), training (40%), management systems (28%) and CCTV (31%).

However, organisations that had the lowest level of current protection had the least desire to improve, meaning that the large variance in protection levels may still occur for staff.

Employers said their main barriers to improved protection in the near future were a lack of funding (61.8%) and lack of resources available (43.4%).

“We needed a comprehensive overview of the full range of lone worker protection systems and user groups out there in the NHS. This refreshes our understanding of the fast-changing lone worker services market and will inform important decisions in the years ahead,” said Frith.