Praise For ‘Fine-A-Yob’ Scheme

On-the-spot fines for drunken patients who abuse casualty staff have been hailed a success by trust bosses. A three-month pilot was carried out at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Greater Manchester to curb misbehaviour and will now be extended indefinitely.

It followed a rise in incidents of staff being sworn and spat at, threatened or attacked. But the deterrent of an £80 fine is changing the culture of the department, police and staff said.

Visitors and patients are now aware that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated in the hospital. Police patrols were also increased in the accident and emergency (A&E) ward to help prevent trouble.

Ch Insp Martin Greenhalgh, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “Before we started this pilot, while there were a number of disruptive incidents in A&E, there were very few indeed that were actually reported to the police. However, this scheme has sent out a very clear message that any type of disruptive or anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and the results of such can be serious for the offender.”

The pilot scheme was the first of its kind in England and followed a rise in anti-social behaviour towards A&E staff across the country.

At the Royal Bolton between April 2006 and September 2006 there were 40 incidents where security staff had to escort people out of A&E, 41 members of staff were verbally abused and there were 38 incidents of threatening behaviour. There were 78 incidents of disruptive or anti-social behaviour during the pilot, although the hospital said warnings were usually sufficient to make people behave.

Procedures for reporting incidents were also improved during the pilot, leading to an increase in recorded cases, a hospital spokeswoman said. Previously, staff often accepted incidents of abuse as part of the job and so they went unreported, she added.

Dr Richard Parris, Consultant in Accident and Emergency Medicine, said: “For too long hospital staff have accepted aggressive behaviour towards them as just part of the job.”

Royal Bolton Hospital’s A&E treats about 100,000 people every year, with between 300-320 patients every day. It is one of the busiest accident and emergency departments in the North West of England.