NHS names first clinical director for violence reduction

Martin Griffiths, a lead surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, has been appointed as the first NHS clinical director for violence reduction.

Griffiths has spent the past decade visiting schools to lecture on the dangers of carrying weapons as well as saving lives on the operating table. His appointment as clinical director for violence reduction in London follows three more people being killed in the capital.

Almost 5,000 people were admitted to hospital after being attacked with a knife or other sharp object last year, up almost a third since 2012-13. The rise was steepest amongst teens who accounted for 1,012 admissions last year, up around 55 per cent from 656 six years ago.

Griffiths, a Consultant Trauma Surgeon, established a pioneering ward-based violence reduction service after operating on young knife victims admitted in their school uniforms. His award-winning scheme sees hospital staff and case workers at charity St Giles Trust helping young patients injured through gang crime while they are still being treated in hospital to help break the cycle of violence at the point of crisis. In six years, this has reduced the number of young people returning to the hospital with further injuries from 45 per cent to less than one per cent.

Griffiths said: “Every day I see the wasted opportunities of young people stuck on hospital wards with life-changing injuries. We do everything we can for these patients but don’t just want to patch them up and send them back out to be injured again. And by working together across the NHS there is more we can do to prevent these attacks happening in the first place. I want to build a network that will empower communities across London to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that result in violence.”

Simon Stevens , NHS England chief executive, said of the appointment: “Violent crime destroys lives and as a society we need to do far more to reduce violent crime. Martin’s commitment to patients doesn’t end when they leave hospital and his inspiring work at The Royal London, and in classrooms in the capital, has helped reduce the number of patients who recover only to return again with another gun or knife injury.

“Martin’s new role will help us do even more to break the cycle of violence and keep people – particularly young people – safe. However, he is just one of many doctors, nurses and other NHS staff trying to stem the bloodshed at source by tackling gang violence across the country and if this initiative works we would like to see it rolled out in all regions.”

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