BBC London News this week aired a special programme looking at knife crime in the capital from the eyes of young people and experts helping address the issue, including Michael Carver, our lead violence reduction nurse at Barts Health.
So, what does a violence reduction nurse actually do?
Funded by Barts Charity, Michael’s role is based at The Royal London Hospital and involves working collaboratively with partners and local communities to understand why youth violence happens, in particular knife crime, with the aim of reducing the amount of knife injuries that are treated in our hospitals. His role is key in ensuring services are joined-up and working better together to solve the problem, understanding that not one service can do this alone. As one of four Major Trauma Centres in the capital, The Royal London treats around 700 knife related injuries a year, equating to around two per day.
Over the past five years, the violence reduction team which also includes lead surgeon Martin Griffiths, has established a successful programme at The Royal London to reduce the amount of young people returning with serious knife or gun related injuries. Michael and the team work closely alongside St Giles Trust; an interventional charity with caseworkers based on the trauma ward and have implemented Engage; a programme in partnership with Tower Hamlets Council that engages those involved in youth violence who present to The Royal London emergency department (ED), to ensure they are getting the right support in the community. The programmes recognise that patients who are supported on discharge are much less likely to return to hospital.
Work has begun to implement programs across other Barts Health sites, with Newham University Hospital recently placing St Giles caseworkers in their ED and work beginning with Waltham Forest Council to try and build a case for Whipps Cross Hospital.
Michael’s dedicated role has helped him build expertise in how to care for young people involved in violence. As a result he has standardised care across Barts Health hospitals and improved awareness and staff training so we can offer a better service to patients who have suffered violence.
Another big part of Michael’s role is research, where he analyses data to identify trends in those that are stabbed or shot, to focus on what can be done to stop violence from happening in the first place.
Michael also keeps up shifts in the emergency department to maintain his clinical practice, where he sees the devastating impact of knife violence first hand. But his work doesn’t stop in the hospital and takes him out into the community to link with local services and share best practice.
On the BBC coverage Michael said: “I’m really pleased to see so much focus on the experiences of young people. Let’s have more of their voices in media, as we cannot deliver solutions without their help and experience.”