Nurses at risk - claim

PUBLISHED: 09:15 27 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

Nurses will be left with no protection or support during potentially dangerous call-outs if plans to axe their drivers go ahead.

Nurses will be left with no protection or support during potentially dangerous call-outs if plans to axe their drivers go ahead.

The proposal is just one option being looked at during a full review of the District Nurse On Call (DNOC) service for Primary Care Trusts (PCT) in Norwich, Broadland, North Norfolk and Southern Norfolk.

If taken up, it was claimed last night, nurses will be forced to go alone to night-time calls, contravening the trusts' own policy on vulnerable lone workers.

Broadland PCT, which manages the service for all four trusts, has conducted a risk assessment for the proposal, concluding it would place nurses in the highest risk category.

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, has taken the issue up with health chiefs, saying he feared for nurses going out to known drug users or dangerous housing estates carrying medication.

“Under these proposals, nurses will be expected to drive long distances, potentially in foul weather or to dangerous areas. The drivers offer protection and allow nurses to concentrate on patient care. For the trust to ignore its own guidelines is unbelievable. It can only increase the risks to nurses.”

A district nurse told the EDP yesterday that neither she nor any of her colleagues were happy to work without driver support - and the plans would be detrimental to patients as well.

The nurse, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I know of colleagues who have come into danger while on call. One attended a road rage incident and the other had a nasty accident which ended up with the car in a ditch down a lonely country lane at night.

“The driver had to kick the windows through. I don't know if she would have got out on her own.

“They also offer us support and assistance. Without them we would basically be doing the job of two people on our own.”

Speaking on behalf of the four Central Norfolk Primary Care Trusts, Wendy Hardicker, assistant director of service modernisation in Southern Norfolk PCT, said: “We are reviewing the district nurse out-of-hours service to see how the team can be used to the best effect in treating local patients and possibly integrate with other Out of Hours providers.

“No decision has been made and we are still looking at the options.”

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