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Data collected within the NHS for 2000/01 revealed over 80,000 reported instances of violent or abusive behavior towards NHS staff, with Community trusts accounting for 31% of these
instances. After mental health trusts, Community trusts had the highest rate of reported incidences in proportion to their staff numbers*.

A National Audit Office survey claims this figure rose to over 95,000 in 2001/2 although it suggests the true figure may be 40% higher (as two in
five attacks are never reported to bosses)**.

LookOut call from C3 is an automated Lone Worker communication service based on mobile phone and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology that is being piloted by a number of NHS Trusts including West Suffolk Hospitals NHS
Trust and Hounslow Primary Care Trust (PCT).

LookOut call provides additional protection for healthcare professionals as part of an integrated Lone Worker solution. The system rapidly identifies incidents and automates the response procedure.

How it works

LookOut call users out in the community regularly update a computer system with their status by keying speed-dial numbers on their mobiles and leaving short voice messages that give their location. Each pre-programmed speed-dial number corresponds either to the length of their visit (20 minute visit, 40 minute visit etc.) or their status (finishing shift, etc.). An individual worker will typically use up to nine different speed dial
numbers; the functions of each being defined according to the working practices of individual teams.

The computer system uses these updates to initiate or reset countdown timers for each member of staff. If a user fails to send a further update within the time stated, their countdown timer reaches zero. At 5 minutes beforehand, the LookOut call system will check for false alarms by sending text messages and if there is no response by zero the system immediately
triggers an incident response process.

Automated Incident Response Process

The process, defined to meet the requirements of individual staff groups within each Trusts, usually starts with a call to a named team leader or
member of the management team. If this first point of contact is not available, the procedure is escalated to the next contact person and
continues escalating until a valid acknowledgement is received. The system
then conveys the appropriate incident information, such as the name of the person affected, time of their last update and nature of the incident. It also replays the stored voice message containing the last location details
provided by the Lone Worker.

LookOut call also allows Lone Workers that feel at risk to press a 'panic' button on their mobile phones to instantly notify office-based management or the police and trigger an incident.

"The LookOut call service has been a true joint collaboration with a number of NHS Trusts who are keen to address the issue of Lone Worker safety," said John Wood, Commercial Manager at, C3. "The feedback from research carried out amongst our pilot projects has been very positive, with LookOut call users reporting that the service has made them feel safer and less anxious about visiting patients in the Community".

Hosted Service Option

NHS Trusts purchasing LookOut call systems can choose either to install the automated hub at their own premises or contract a fully hosted service from C3. Hosted service customers enjoy the significant benefits of C3 managing the computer equipment and associated telephony connections - while retaining web-based access to the system for configuration and reports. In
both cases C3 provides a full implementation and support service to ensure the effective operation of a Lone Worker solution appropriate to the
individual Trust's needs.

* Summary of 2000/ 2001 Survey of reported violent or abusive behavior incidents, accidents and staff sickness absence in NHS trust and health
authorities in England - Source: Dept. of Health 2002

** Source:

About C3

C3 develops and supplies computer-based communications platforms and applications for corporates, service providers and the public sector. Since 1990 the company has installed over 250 000 lines of communications technology worldwide for: prepaid telephony, emergency call out, IVR, speech recognition, call/contact centre, virtual call centre, voicemail, and automated solutions.

For further enquiries please contact:

Susan Hunt, C3, Tel: +44 (0) 1223 427700 email:
Michael Gray, Gray Associates Ltd. Tel: +44 (0) 20 8744 9168 email:

FOR A PICTURE of Liz Lewis, Clinical Manager for Hounslow Night Nursing Service, please click here
Hounslow Primary Care Trust is a user of the LookOut call service.

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