Rise in ‘dog attacks’ on Derbyshire nurses visiting patients in their homes

An increasing number of community nurses in Derbyshire are being bitten by dogs while visiting patients in their homes.
An increasing number of community nurses in Derbyshire are being bitten by dogs while visiting patients in their homes.

An increasing number of community nurses in Derbyshire are being bitten by dogs while visiting patients in their homes.

Leadership at the Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust (DCHS) say that much of the risk around these incidents is ‘unpreventable’ due to the very nature of the job.

A report published by the trust says that there has been an ‘increase in the number of dog bites’.

At a meeting of the trust’s governing board on Thursday, non executive director Ian Lichfield suggested staff could call the patient they were about to visit, ask if they have a dog, and if they do, ‘ask them to put it away’.

Amanda Rawlings, the trust’s director of people and organisational effectiveness, said: “I hate to say this, but some of this is almost unpreventable.

“When staff visit patients, it is in the patient’s home environment and it is hard to avoid this risk if they own dogs.

“It is a similar problem as that faced by those in the postal service. The number of incidents we are seeing is increasing.”

There have been 12 incidents of staff being injured by dogs while giving care to patients at home in the current financial year.

In the previous year, 2017 through to March 2018, there were 12 injuries sustained by staff from dogs and one in which a member of staff was scratched by a cat.

A spokesperson from Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust said: “We all need to do our best to keep staff safe while they are visiting patients at home to deliver care.

“We’d urge pet owners to help us by securing their pet in a different room during the visit.

“Some of the incidents in the past two years have required staff to take time off work afterwards.”

The trust is required to inform the police after each incident of an animal attacking members of its staff.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service