A new police hub has opened at a Yorkshire hospital in a bid to cut down on the number of attacks on medical staff and antisocial behaviour.
The hub is now in place close to the Accident and Emergency department at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital and will be a base for officers to help maintain a more consistent presence at the hospital and provide reassurance to the public and staff, the South Yorkshire Police force has said.
Police have also described the timing of the hub as crucial, particularly in the run up to Christmas and over the festive period which is the busiest time of year for medical staff.
Latest figures show there were nearly 300 attacks on workers at the Sheffield hospital in 2018 - more than any other hospital in the city.
Hospital bosses said the majority of the 290 attacks were carried out by patients affected by their medical condition who may not be fully in control of their actions, however unions which represent staff said attacks are often carried out by patients fuelled by alcohol and blamed the rise on cuts to other NHS services which is putting hospital staff under increased pressure.
South Yorkshire Police Superintendent Delphine Waring said: “We are incredibly excited about this project, which has been the result of lots of hard work over the past few months.
"Our new room is at the beating heart of the hospital and most importantly close to A&E, which is where our officers are often needed to support NHS staff.
“The timing of this new base being available is crucial as we approach the harsher winter months and of course Christmas, which does unfortunately increase demand on all emergency services.
“Whilst this is not open to the public, it does mean we’ll be able to provide a more consistent presence in the hospital, which should be reassuring to patients and hospital staff.”
Whilst the hub will not be open to the public, both South Yorkshire Police and the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust say it will provide a clear point of contact for staff and boost police visibility onsite and in the surrounding area.
The presence of the hub will provide additional opportunities for our staff to engage with members of the public and NHS staff whilst working from the hospital.
Jon Goodison, Head of Security at Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our security team and the local police work in partnership to ensure our patients, visitors and staff feel secure and supported within our hospitals and in the surrounding areas.
“We look forward to welcoming the local policing team into their dedicated base within the Northern General Hospital which will further increase their presence within the Trust and the local community.”