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UK nurses issued with new guide on spotting trafficking victims

Thursday 18th May 2017
NHS nurses are to be issued with a new pocket guide on how to spot and treat patients they believe to be victims of trafficking and modern slavery. Image: monkeybusinessimages via iStock
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Nurses in the UK are set to receive new training on how to spot potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery to ensure that these individuals can begin receiving the treatment and care that they require more quickly.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is issuing a new guide to all NHS nursing staff, after 86 per cent admitted that they do not feel adequately equipped to spot and treat trafficking victims.

However, one-fifth of the nurses questioned revealed that they had come into contact with at least one victim of these illegal practices at some point throughout their career, meaning they were not necessarily able to administer the best care and support for the specific needs of these individuals.

With this in mind, the guide explains that nurses should investigate further if they are treating a patient accompanied by someone who insists on speaking on their behalf or who appears vague and uncomfortable when asked about their schooling, employment or residential address.

Another factors that could signal that a patient is a modern slavery victim is if they cannot provide evidence of any official documentation and are not registered with a GP.

Statistics estimate that approximately 13,000 people are illegally trafficked into the UK each year, before being forced into unpaid or poorly-paid manual labour or domestic roles, while many are also forced into prostitution.

Carmel Burgess, professional lead for midwifery and women's health at the RCN, commented: "Victims of trafficking and slavery are so often hidden from public view, so it's vital that healthcare staff take the opportunity to identify them and alert the relevant services.

"We want to get to a point where this is second nature to all healthcare staff, so that every victim who comes into contact with the health service receives the help they need."

The new information will take the form of a pocket guide, which nurses based in walk-in centres, GP surgeries and hospitals will be required to carry so they are always aware of how to act should they be concerned for the welfare of a potential trafficking victim.

Written by James Puckle

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