The National Association for Healthcare Security by John Currie

(This is a spotlight on a great organisation, doing an outstanding job, representing a huge number of security industry workers, with VERY demanding day to day roles…… Ed.)

The National Association for Healthcare Security, known as NAHS was formed in 1994, as a nonprofit making professional organisation. The organisation is run by voluntary members who will be fully introduced in later articles.  The aims of NAHS have been clear from the outset; these being, to drive and encourage continual development and champion professionalism and promote improvements in Healthcare Security.

NAHS, as a prime stakeholder in Healthcare Security, supported NHS Protect throughout its existence until it was disbanded in April 2017.  To set the scene, NHS Protect (formerly known as NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service) had been created in 2003 and gained its authority from the Secretary of State for Health Directions and later from the Health and Social Care Act.  NHS Protect began training and accrediting personnel and the role of the Local Security Management Specialist (LSMS) was born.

Each NHS Trust was expected to employ or contract in the services of an LSMS who had the support of an area specialist.  The LSMS was specifically tasked with developing a Pro-Security culture and addressing crime in the NHS but in particular the role was focussed on tackling violence, aggression and the abuse of NHS staff, however, as time passed, the role and responsibilities increased and areas such as Conflict Resolution training, anti social behaviour orders, the prosecution of patients detained under the Mental Health Act and Lone Working soon became part of the ever growing agenda.  NHS Protect provided guidance and advice on a wide range of matters and shortly after its inception, the Legal Protection Unit (LPU) was created to assist the LSMS pursue criminal justice and civil prosecutions and sanctions.  This all came to an abrupt end in 2017 when NHS Protect was dissolved and responsibility for security was left to individual NHS Trust Boards to address.

The NAHS Executive Team have recognised that with the loss of NHS Protect, the LSMS was left with no external ‘top cover’, centralised advice or even anyone lobbying for the role of the LSMS and security management as a whole.  It is felt that although NAHS cannot replace NHS Protect we, as a national organisation made up from experienced healthcare security management specialists is well placed and ideally positioned to provide the support, leadership and guidance our colleagues need and to this end we are looking to the future and the development of NAHS as a truly professional registered body and a thoroughly proactive organisation. Our first step has been to critically review our Constitution and develop a new 1, 3 and 5 year plan and strategy.  These documents are currently being finalised and will be shared with NAHS members very shortly.  Other areas in development are a new and much improved website that will be optimised for PC / laptop, phone and tablet viewing with an interactive members only areas where you will be able to update your personal profile, enter details of any specific areas of expertise for example or areas of interest and register a willingness to assist and advise colleagues in any particular area of expertise.  Members will be able to join groups to network and collaborate on projects and work streams.  This new look website will allow members to contribute and share in their regional LSMS group areas with scope for group chat, document sharing and tracked change document management.  The document and policy repository and library will be updated for members to utilise with an easier interface and search capability.

NAHS is currently pursuing Charity status and intends registering as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) are a member based organisation, where all members have voting rights and which is deemed the most appropriate for an association.  The benefits of registering as a CIO are that by doing so allows NAHS to exist as a legal and protected entity, enabling us to become a professional registered body.   Other benefits are that NAHS would be able to have insurance, etc. we would have ownership of and be able to protect the NAHS name, our members could be awarded post nominal’s and the association could implement a register of graded membership. Furthermore, implementation of our 5 year plan would set us on the path to become a Chartered body thereby enabling NAHS to have Chartered Members in the future.  It is appreciated that is a long way off and will require a great deal of work and an increase in our membership in order to achieve, however, NAHS is in this for ‘the long game’.

We are also strengthening our links and ties with the Security Institute and Security Commonwealth so that our members can accrue CPD points and access accredited learning and security focussed training.  Unfortunately, NHS Protect did not have anything in place for LSMS development or additional training and as we are all acutely aware, continuing professional development is essential in order for our industry to respond to the ever changing crime trends and the methods used.  The existing links with the accrediting University and Security Management Professional Accreditation Board (SMPAB) are being explored with a view to developing the area of professional registration and registering NAHS as a Chartered Institute.  As we cannot include everything or talk about all aspects of our work and the exciting plans and changes we are working on in this first article, there will be more to follow in future articles. However, to give you a slightly more detailed introduction to NAHS, here is some of the work that NAHS Executives have been involved in the last 9 months

Collaborating with Secured By Design (SBD) on a much needed revision to the SBD Hospitals (2005) guidance.  The new document will not just refer to Hospitals but will include advice and guidance on an agreed standard for all Healthcare locations.

Consulting NHS England and Department of Health on review of NHS Security Standards and NHS National Contract.

Supporting NHS England in advisory capacity regarding LSMS training and accreditation.

Supporting and coordinating NHS England violence against staff survey.

Part of working group – Violence in the Workplace, in conjunction with NHS England, the Royal College of Nursing and Unison to consider the combined impacts of:

Dissolution of NHS Protect as central regulator for security management in NHS Trusts.

NHS clinical (nursing) staffing.

Aligned to Health and Safety Executive focus on workplace violence this year.

Part of the SIA Advisory panel on SIA licensing and training requirements – specifically relating to Healthcare Security.

Provided review and lobbying in relation to proposed ‘Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill 2017-19’, a private members bill raised by Chris Bryant MP.

NAHS recently engaged with Security Management Professional Accreditation Board in relation to the development and standardisation of LSMS training.

In several geographic regions supported and continued to administration and organisation of LSMS Regional Meetings.

Strengthening our Executive team by appointing a new Membership Exec and an Executive Director responsible for social media, publicity and all things IT.  The work going on in these two areas will be discussed in future articles.

NAHS is associated with the Forum for Healthcare Security in Ireland and has links to Healthcare Security in New Zealand and is striving to develop existing links with our North American (NAHS) colleagues as the prevalence of violence towards Healthcare providers is the same across the world.  We are keen to share our learning and best practices and collaborate with colleagues internationally to help keep our staff and places of work safe.  As mentioned earlier, NAHS already has excellent formal links with the Security Institute and ASIS UK Chapter 208 and is working to further develop these relationships and working practices in order to share best practice and enhance the resources available to all our members.

The Association accepts membership applications from all accredited NHS Security Management Specialists, all those involved in Healthcare Security, those wishing to develop their skills within the area and corporate applications from those organisations selling to and supplying NHS and other Healthcare organisations.  Our membership structure and future plans will be fully explained in our next featured article.

About John Currie

John is Head of Security and NHS Accredited Local Security Management Specialist (LSMS) for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust. He was recently voted in as NAHS Executive Director. John is a former Royal Air Force Police Special Investigator who began working with the NHS in 2005 as a Drugs Worker with the Coventry Drugs Intervention Programme. He moved back to the Policing and Security field in 2006, gaining his NHS Security Management LSMS accreditation in 2007.

John has worked across all sectors of the NHS and has a particular interest in Mental Health Acute and Forensic services. He now works closely with two Mental Health Trusts, hosted on his two acute hospital sites. In addition to the ‘normal’ day job, John delivers Lone Worker, Personal Safety skills, PREVENT and Project GRIFFIN Counter Terrorism awareness training.