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Healthcare awards


Four tips to make hospitals a safer place

Working in a hospital is tough and fast-paced, but incredibly rewarding. Sara Stephenson, Portering and Security Manager at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, has been shortlisted for the Frontline Award at the 2019 Women in Security Awards.

Below she shares some top tips to keep patients, visitors and staff at one of the largest hospital trusts in England safe and secure throughout the year.

Be compassionate

When I first took on management of the security team, there was a ‘bouncer attitude’ in place – which makes sense in a nightclub but not so much in a hospital!  The people we look after are often vulnerable and need our care.

Recently, an inpatient with dementia locked himself in a room. Every time someone tried to enter the room they would be attacked by the patient – as he thought he was at home and they were breaking in.

To make sure we could get him out safely, our officers knocked on the door and waited to be invited in. This seemingly small action showed the patient we understood and respected his perspective, making him feel safe and at home, and helped us resolve the situation.

Be prepared to adapt

Sometimes patients are aggressive or violent towards my team. This is the often due to a patient not understanding where they are or what is going on.

I’ve adapted one of our usual processes to help keep the patient and my team as safe as possible when this happens.

Our stab proof vests, worn for protection, can make my team look like police officers which may cause distress to the patient. 

To help with this I encouraged my team to wear their vests under their shirts. This small adaptation helped to ensure patients see a person trying to assist rather than a uniform.

Commit to ongoing training and development

Hospitals are dynamic, fast-paced and ever-changing. To keep on top of this I make sure my team has regular training so they can tailor their work to the needs of every patient they work with.

This training has included mental health first aid, knife awareness, dementia awareness, child sexual exploitation, domestic violence awareness and autism awareness, which helps us keep everyone safe.


I regularly meet with the psychiatric liaison at another NHS Trust to better understand the trigger points of mental health service users, so that we can make their stay with us as comfortable as possible. This helps to reduce the chance of them causing injury to themselves or staff members.

We also work extremely closely with our local police and CCTV hub, which is key when responding to major incidents or trying to locate missing patients.

Queen’s Hospital in Romford is part of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. It serves a population of around 700,000 from a wide range of social and ethnic groups.

September 12, 2019

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