The Department of Health has commissioned the Design Council to run the year-long Reducing Violence and Aggression in A&E by Design project.
A 2003 National Audit Office report estimates that violence towards staff costs the NHS £69m a year in staff absence, loss of productivity and additional security.
The project has kicked off with a search for designers to work with architects, healthcare experts, patients and front-line NHS staff to develop potential design solutions to tackle violence and aggression.
These could include changes to interior design, such as redesigning room layouts or introducing new products or furniture, improvements to the information given to patients and their families in A&E, and redesigning clinical and non-clinical services and systems.
The deadline for submissions is 4 April and designs will be showcased in October.
The project will see designers working with A&E staff and patients from three NHS Hospital Trusts: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; and Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS, says, ‘There is a substantial financial and human cost to violence against staff and I look forward to seeing the results of this project, which will help A&E departments become calmer, safer and more productive environments.’
He adds, ‘Anything which can help to diffuse difficult situations, demand mutual respect or reduce the pressure on busy staff is a welcome addition towards building a modern NHS, centred around high-quality patient care.’
Lord Michael Bichard, chairman of the Design Council, says, ‘Design is now recognised by the Department of Health as having the potential to develop new solutions to difficult problems within the NHS. This is a great opportunity for designers to really make a difference to staff and patients and, hopefully, save money.’