Nurses are now playing a valuable role in assessing people held in police custody, complementing the traditional role of the police doctor and improving response times, according to research published in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Researchers from the University of Wolverhampton, UK, analysed just under 9,000 calls for medical assistance from five police stations and interviewed 31 custody nurses, custody officers and Forensic Medical Examiners (FMEs).
FMEs - specially trained family doctors - have traditionally provided on-call forensic and custodial medical services to UK police stations, in addition to their main primary care role explains lead author Dr Patricia Bond from the Research Institute for Healthcare Sciences at the University of Wolverhampton.
Many UK police authorities are also starting to use dedicated custody nurses as well as FMEs to ease pressure on the healthcare system.
Our research showed that the nurses who were specifically employed to provide on-call custody support - demonstrated faster response times and similar consultation times to the doctors. Police custody staff also found them extremely approachable when it came to providing information.
Using nurses as part of a multi-disciplinary team is a practical response to the challenges faced by an overburdened health service and our research suggests that it has been very successful.
The custody nursing service surveyed was designed to complement and extend the provision of on-call healthcare services to five police stations in the north of England. Six nurses were contracted to deliver care and assess patients between 6pm and 2am, working in parallel with a network of experienced FMEs, who provided round-the-clock cover.
8911 calls for medical assistance were analysed over the course of a year.
4,771 calls (54 per cent) were received in the first six months of the study period - before the ded
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Blackwell Publishing Ltd.