Hospitals turn green to calm the nerves

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The Independent Online
ALARMED by the rising tide of attacks on doctors and nurses, the Government has issued new security advice to hospitals - to paint their walls green, write Stephen Castle and Mark Rowe.

The Department of Health has sent out a booklet with guidance on the type of decor likely to calm difficult patients, and warnings about colour schemes which clash.

An official booklet, Effective Management of Security in Accident and Emergency, advises casualty departments that if the "A and E unit is attractively decorated it will be a calming influence".

The document goes on: "Careful selection of colour schemes is important as colour schemes can have an effect on the mood of the observer. Some have a calming effect, eg green, bluish green, yellowish green, while colours such as bright yellow and red can be a source of irritation."

Other shades should be deployed to reduce the claustrophobic tendency of some casualty wards. Blue and cream are suggested as shades which make space appear larger.

Health department sources stressed that the document also contained advice on issues such as the installation of closed circuit TV, security response to incidents in A and E, and contact with the police.

The initiative comes as Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Health, enlisted the help of Diana Lamplugh of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust which offers advice on safety, to help tackle the threat of hospital violence.

Colour therapists have long practised on the basis that colour has significant influence on physical and psychological moods.