PANIC alarms are to be given to hundreds of health workers in Huddersfield – to keep them safe.
The personal security alarms will go to nurses and other healthcare staff who often work alone.
They will be linked to a control centre in West Yorkshire, providing a rapid response by security teams.
The purchase of the alarms has created an extra 40 jobs at the Reliance call centre based in West Yorkshire following a commitment made by Health Secretary Alan Johnson to improve the safety and security of lone NHS workers.
Those to get alarms will include nurses, midwives and health visitors. Lone working is defined as any situation in which someone works without a colleague nearby. It could be outside of a hospital or similar environment or internally, where staff care for patients or service users on their own, including community or outreach workers.
Sue Proctor, chief nurse at NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The safety of our nurses and other healthcare staff is paramount.
“Lone workers in our region will welcome this system that will allow them to carry out their important work with increased security.
“The fact that NHS investment has created extra jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber comes as fantastic news in these times.”
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: “No NHS staff should have to put up with violence in the workplace, but sadly it does happen.
“Lone workers are particularly vulnerable and I am determined to provide them with as much protection as we can to enable them to carry out their valuable work knowing that they have the support they need should their personal safety be threatened.”
A Reliance spokesman said: “Reliance is delighted to be supporting NHS staff across the UK in this new project.
“It will result in significant investment and the creation of at least 40 new jobs at our Alarm Response Centre in West Yorkshire.”
If a lone worker indicates they need help, the call centre will be able to listen to and record events in a way that is legally admissible making it easier for workers to bring cases to prosecution where appropriate.
The new alarms use location based service (LBS) technology, which will help locate the user and link to a trained individual who can summon help if needed.
The alarms will be rolled out from today and will initially target community workers who work with patients and their families or associates who have a history of violence, alcohol or drug abuse or clinical conditions which might heighten risks to the lone worker, and those who work in areas of high crime rates and social deprivation.