First NHS clinical director for violence reduction appointed

The NHS has appointed its first clinical director for violence reduction to help prevent stabbings and other violent crime.

Martin Griffiths, a lead surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, has spent the past decade visiting schools to lecture on the dangers of carrying weapons as well as saving lives on the operating table.

Martin, Consultant Trauma Surgeon at The Royal London Hospital, and fellow colleagues set up 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% to less than 1%.

Martin 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.”

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% from 656 six years ago.

Simon Stevens said: “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.”