NHS Protect calls for consistent lone worker protection after survey highlights gaps in provision

NHS Protect has completed a comprehensive survey of lone worker protection across the NHS in England

NHS Protect has completed a comprehensive survey of lone worker protection across the NHS in England

As NHS workers become more mobile and start to provide additional services out in the community, NHS Protect has completed a comprehensive survey of lone worker protection across the NHS in England. The results suggest a “wide variance” in terms of provision by employers.

“We needed a comprehensive overview of the full range of lone worker protection systems and user groups out there in the NHS,” commented Sue Frith, managing director at NHS Protect. “This refreshes our understanding of the fast-changing lone worker services market and will inform important decisions in the years ahead. The level of response was excellent, notably from acute trusts, mental health trusts and clinical commissioning groups.”

Over 2,000 stakeholders in the NHS were contacted by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and more than 700 commissioned services invited by to complete the survey by NHS Protect. Data collection took place between January and April this year, with the exercise approved by the Standardisation Committee for Care Information.

Key findings of the research

The data received was analysed for obvious and key trends. Some of the main findings are as follows:

*Badge holder-type lone worker devices (over 60% of the NHS market) remain more popular than key fob devices

*Use of mobile phones for lone working is steadily rising. Occupational therapists and community health staff are shown by the survey to be the highest users of management systems and alarm-type solutions

*Different sectors experience very different levels of assaults on workers

*The sector with the lowest number of assaults (acute) exhibits the highest usage of devices (73.83%), but it’s worth bearing in mind that many other factors may be contributing to this figure

The ambulance sector has the lowest rate of lone worker device usage

The ambulance sector has the lowest rate of lone worker device usage

*The ambulance sector highlights the lowest rate of lone worker device usage (41.67%)

*The mental health sector – where NHS staff suffer the highest assault rate at 223 per 1,000 – doesn’t harbour a higher rate of lone worker device usage as a direct reflection of this

*In their lone worker protection planning for the next two years, most NHS organisations are focusing their attentions on lone worker devices (41%), training (40%), management systems (28%) and CCTV (31%)

*The lowest level of intention to improve lone worker protection is found among those organisations with the lowest level of current protection (29.4% for no devices versus 52.9% for some devices). There’s a risk that the majority improve protection but that a few organisations retain an insufficient level of protection and have no desire to improve

*Employers have identified their main barriers to improving lone worker protection in the near future as being lack of funding (61.8%) and a similar issue in terms of available resources (43.4%)

More work to be done

In conclusion, Sue Frith explained: “These findings suggest that there’s more work to be done such 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 in order to fix them.”

An indication of how seriously NHS staff consider the issue of lone worker protection is evidenced by a motion at the recent Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress, whereupon 98% of RCN members voted for its Council to “take action against organisations failing to provide sufficiently robust lone working systems to protect all staff.”

*The full NHS Protect report is now available to view at the following link:



About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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