Comment

07.04.17

Filling the void and standardising security

Source: NHE Mar/Apr 17

Jayne King, chair of the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS) and head of security, portering and reception services at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS FT, discusses the need for greater education and standardisation around security in the NHS.

NAHS was formed in 1994, as a non-profit professional organisation, with an aim to support and enable healthcare provision through the delivery of professional security –  ultimately enhancing the healthcare environment. 

The association’s motto, ‘Prevention…better than cure’, is an adage that can apply right across the NHS, and NAHS, according to its chair, Jayne King, can play a significant unifying role in security going forward. 

From 1 April, NHS Protect, which has led on the work to identify and tackle crime across the health service, will cease to exist in its current format. Instead, it will move purely to a fraud role. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity for NAHS, and we have known it was in the pipeline,” said King, whose association has played a strategic engagement role with NHS Protect, with many of its members on working parties and committees. 

While King reflected on the work of NHS Protect, particularly the need for each trust to have a Security Management Specialist, she added that there is little standardisation across the security piece in health. 

“In the bad old days, everyone use to work in their silos,” said King. “The big strategy for me, as chair, is about education of security and trying to mandate that. At the moment, you can go from one trust to another only five miles down the road, and we will have completely different standards.” 

This is an issue she feels desperately needs addressing, especially as the number of people NAHS members are responsible for is continually growing: “A colleague of mine is responsible for 10,000 people. In my position at Guy’s & St Thomas’, I have 15,500 staff and 2.3 million patient contacts. You could say that is how many people’s safety I’m responsible for – we are talking huge numbers.” 

One of the major issues facing the security workforce in the NHS is that, for many, their job isn’t just solely focused on security. King’s role, for instance, is head of security, portering and reception services. 

“I’m head of security and site services, we tend to get a multitude of other things. So not many people solely run just security, we also get car parking,” she said, adding that this is where NAHS, as a network of like-minded people, can help their colleagues across the country and share learning. 

What can security deliver? 

Discussing the financial challenges facing the NHS, King reiterated the point that “we are going through some really radical changes, because we get less funding and have to do more”. 

With security, she added, you need to be offering the best value you can irrespective of whether security is in-house or outsourced. At Guy’s & St Thomas’, King has a combination, backed up with a security management team. 

“We take the view at the trust that good security aids recruitment,” she said. “One thing we always think about here is the lack of nurses and doctors. It is an absolute fact that if your staff feel safe, and as safe as you can provide, it actually helps with your retention of staff. 

“There are lots of positives and that has to be the positive message you put on things. The downside is that sometimes it can be seen that people go for the cheapest option. But what you will get with that is a lack of quality, commitment and buy-in.” 

King has been at Guy’s & St Thomas’ for 15 years, and understands both the models of in-house and contract security. “My issue with contract security is that it is only as good as the contract you want and manage,” she said, adding: “The first time I had to write a specification I knew what I wanted and didn’t want, but translating it into a contract was difficult.”

This is where NAHS, through its events and networking, believes it can help fill the void once NHS Protect’s role changes in the spring. 

King added that the biggest security issues facing hospitals are violence and theft. Offering some advice on how to tackle the latter, she said: “There are some real no-cost things people can do. The one thing that has improved through the years is partnership working. 

“I sit on lots of local partnership groups. They tend to be local business forums because if people are stealing from us, they are stealing from the business down the road and in the area. Businesses need to have a voice in this: sharing intelligence together.” 

She concluded that by engaging with the local business community, lessons can be taken back to the trust, which help develop the security offering at hospitals facing unprecedented financial and security challenges.

For more information

W: www.nahs.org.uk

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