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Drunks who attack hospital staff face pubs and clubs ban

A New scheme to ban people from city centre pubs and clubs if they assault hospital staff after a night out has been welcomed by Health Minister Edwina Hart.

But Alcohol Concern in Wales said while the idea is “useful”, it believes some of the root causes of drink-fuelled violence, such as irresponsible supermarket and pub drink promotions, still need to be tackled.

The plan to ban drunks who abuse medical staff has been announced by the Safer Swansea Partnership as part of its annual Call Time on Violent Crime campaign launched as the Christmas party season gears up.

It follows a scheme in Cardiff in which drunken people injured or involved in violence who require hospital treatment are being asked to reveal the location of their last drink on licences premises.

The Swansea move was welcomed yesterday by Health Minister Edwina Hart, who said : “I’m pleased to see people working in tandem with the NHS to counteract violence and aggression against NHS staff.

“It is unacceptable that NHS staff face wilful violence and aggression in going about their day-to-day duties caring for patients.

“Such behaviour by a minority of patients and visitors not only harm staff but other patients and visitors.”

But Andrew Misell, policy manager for Alcohol Conern Cymru, said: “Any kind of violence and aggression towards NHS staff is unacceptable, and we need to recognise that this sort of behaviour is often linked to excessive drinking.

“Alcohol consumption has been rising in the UK for some time, and it is not surprising that many areas are having problems with alcohol-related public disorder.

“Initiatives like this one in Swansea can be useful in tackling the end results of alcohol misuse.

“But we also need to look at the root causes.

“In particular, we need to put a stop to some of the irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs that encourage people to drink quickly or drink more than they intended.

“The same applies to many of the supermarkets, where big discounts and loss-leading alcohol sales can encourage us to drink too much.”

Under the new Exclusion Zone scheme in Swansea, people who attend hospital after a night out in the city and are charged by the police with violence-related offences towards hospital staff, will be banned from pubs and clubs in Swansea city centre.

Swansea Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board chairman Win Griffiths said yesterday: “I’m very pleased the Safer Swansea Partnership has taken this action, which should help protect our staff from violent and aggressive behaviour.

“I hope this will act as a deterrent and reduce the numbers of people coming into our A&E department which will also help take the pressure off our very hard-working staff.”

The move comes just two months after the Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Barbara Wilding, and Edwina Hart signed an agreement at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital which allowed police to work more closely with the NHS in Wales in the investigation of allegations of violence towards NHS staff.

Latest figures show that there were 7,343 incidents of violence and aggression in the NHS in Wales in 2007/08.

source: Western Mail

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