Nurses get to grips with violent patients

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The Independent Online
NURSES are being trained in self-defence and control and restraint techniques that have previously been confined mainly to special hospitals, such as Broadmoor, and prisons, writes Simon Denison.

In the first scheme of its kind in the country, hospital nurses, district nurses and health visitors in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, are being taught to handle aggressive patients with techniques such as finger-, wrist- and arm- locks.

Recent studies by the British Medical Association and the Working Group on Violence Against Doctors found that more than one in 12 London GPs, and one in three nurses on accident and emergency wards, had been assaulted by patients or their families. According to the National Schizophrenic Society, at least 40 murders have been committed by mental patients since the Care in the Community programme began.

Wakefield's scheme, run from the Stanley Royd Hospital, has so far instructed 250 nurses. Trainer Lesley Price said her 'soft' techniques hurt only if the patient resists. In addition, her restraint techniques only grip and twist the patient's body 'in the way it was designed to go'.