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Michael Cheetham – New guidance on collecting data on violence in emergency departments

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has published new standard operating procedures (SOP) and training materials that explain how emergency departments should collect data on assault victims. For colleagues that work in an Emergency Department, this blog sets out how collecting this data is vital to supporting violence reduction.

Information Sharing to Tackle Violence (ISTV) data has been mandated for collection by the NHS since 2014. Collecting and sharing this data is required by the new Serious Violence Duty which identifies the NHS as an important partner in a public health approach to violence reduction.

These new guidelines set out to improve the consistency and quality of how this data is recorded and shared. The most important pieces of data collected are:

  • a brief description of the location of assault
  • the time of assault
  • the method of assault

This data is then anonymised (meaning that no personal data is supplied outside of the NHS) and shared with authorities responsible for discharging the Serious Violence Duty to collaborate to prevent serious violence.

New materials, including the SOP, training videos and a list of frequently asked questions, have been developed in consultation with colleagues and peers across the UK including members of the NHS England London Violence Reduction Programme team. These can be accessed here: Information Sharing to Tackle Violence | RCEM

Business Intelligence or other staff submitting ISTV data in London can find a short guidance document here.

Why is accurate data collection in emergency departments so important?

Data on victims of assault attending emergency departments is an important and effective tool in violence reduction and can help to reduce both the number of people suffering injuries from violence and the cost to the public of dealing with violence.

We know that many victims of assault (up to three quarters) don’t report their assault to the police – particularly if they are vulnerable or somehow involved in criminal activity.

However, they may often need treatment and therefore attend an emergency department or Urgent Care Centre. This means that the health service – and urgent and emergency care in particular – has a unique view of the nature and prevalence of violence in local communities.

The data collected can be used to help inform a range of violence reduction measures, such as the installation of CCTV, alcohol licencing applications and shifts in policing focus.

Data collected through this route is not used in criminal enforcement.

By knowing where and how people are injured, through the effective collection and use of ISTV data, we can:

  • reduce the amount of violence related injury by up to a third;
  • save the public up to £82 associated with the wider costs of violence for every £1 spend on implementation.

The Caldicott Principles say that health professionals should have the confidence to share data “in the best interests of patients and service users”. The collection and sharing of ISTV data is supported by this.

Emergency department receptionists, triage nurses, clinicians, and all other ED personnel can support the collection of ISTV data by asking people injured in violence key questions, recording information accurately and reporting concerns.

Michael Cheetham
National Violence Reduction Data Manager, NHS England

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