It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS is the difficulty of meeting the increasing demands on health services while government spending struggles to keep pace. A less talked about but serious consequence is the cuts that have been made to security in hospitals and other medical sites.
Local authorities are encountering the same issue and – as I wrote in my blog on the matter – a purely price-driven tender process has severe consequences on the quality of the service offered by security companies. When contracts are awarded on price alone, service quality can suffer to the point that site safety is dangerously compromised.
But security is not only necessary in hospitals, it is essential. Hospitals are sprawling, multi-building sites that are open to the public and in operation 24/7. Monitoring, patrolling and responding to threats on such a site is simply beyond the scope of security companies that can offer the lowest possible prices.
There are numerous threats to hospitals that must be considered during a security risk assessment. Every hospital is unique, with some being a tight cluster of buildings while others sprawl over the equivalent of a small town.
First and foremost is the safety of hospital staff, patients and the public. Patients in hospitals can be unpredictable or aggressive due to intoxication, brain injuries or mental illness, while patients or visitors becoming highly stressed is an inevitable reality of a hospital environment.
Diffusing and controlling heated or violent situations prevents staff, patients and the public coming to harm. The last thing overstretched hospitals need is to have to treat injuries sustained in their own walls.
This is especially true in NHS Secure Services where patients from prisons or patients who are considered a threat to themselves under the Mental Health Act are treated in facilities with an increased security presence. All aspects of security are heightened in such sites and only the best security companies are capable of working on them.
Hospitals use, store and transport huge quantities of valuable medicines, chemicals and equipment which are vulnerable to theft.
Sites holding valuables are a challenge to protect at the best of times, even more so when the site is open at all hours with limited access and egress control. Security guards and CCTV operators must be able to quickly identify and intercept suspicious behaviour amongst the constant stream of people coming and going.
Hospitals require complex access control systems to ensure that each area is only accessible by those who are supposed to be there, with multiple levels of security clearance throughout the building controlled by electronic or biometric passes. This reduces the risk of theft not just from people outside the hospital, but people within it as well.
In medical research facilities, security staff must also protest against the threat of vandalism from activists or may have to relocate protestors and keep any protest activity safe and peaceful.
Security guards have a number of talents outside of their ability to identify and prevent threats which can make them a valuable asset in a hospital environment.
In Magenta Security’s hospital contracts, our cool-headed and disciplined security guards take on a number of additional duties such as manning defibrillators, refilling gas bottles and porterage assistance. This is all on top of the first aid and fire training that we provide as standard.
Patrolling security guards can also quickly spot and resolve any leaks or electrical faults which could escalate into a flood or fire if not found, especially in areas which might otherwise go unchecked for hours or more. And if there ever is a need to evacuate the building, security guards can keep procedures orderly and calm.
Hospitals tendering for security contracts should always consider the additional value provided by having a professional and well-managed security team on site 24/7.
If you need advice on hospital security or would like to discuss a quote for a security contract, please contact our award-winning customer service team now on 0800 772 3786.
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