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Alongside the medical staff clocking on for a night shift in the emergency department at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital from July will be two new faces. 

Their bright pink t-shirts make them easy to spot. Sam and Thomas are navigators and their job is to break the chain of violence which sees some people trapped in a spiralling cycle of hospital admissions.  

In a UK first the Navigator scheme was piloted at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 2015. Following success there it was rolled out to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The team of four navigators have now offered support to around a thousand people during that “reachable moment” when people may be open to making change. From young people involved in gang life to those suffering domestic abuse or trapped in addiction, the navigators can provide help beyond the A&E department to support people out of violence.

A further £140,000 in funding from the Scottish Government has allowed Navigator to be extended to QEUH and Crosshouse Hospital in East Ayrshire. 

Lead navigator Sam Fingland who will be working at QEUH said: “We are delighted to be given the chance to compliment the amazing work the dedicated team at QEUH do every day. By using the unique opportunity the hospital setting offers we can form a connection with patients which allows us to help them access the services they need outside hospital to break free of the cycle of violence they’re trapped in. This can have a positive ripple effect across families and even communities.”

QEUH emergency department Clinical Director Alan Whitelaw said: “I know I speak for everyone in the emergency department when I say I am delighted to welcome the navigators to the ED and we look forward to working with them to improve the outcome of patients affected by violence. The impact of the navigators in other EDs is well documented and we are hugely enthusiastic about bringing this service to the QEUH.”

Navigator is run by the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, which is part of Police Scotland, and charity Medics Against Violence in partnership with the NHS. 

Project lead Inspector Keith Jack said: “We are excited to able to expand Navigator thanks to support from the Scottish Government. That critical moment in hospital after a person has been involved in a violent incident is a time when they have the potential to make real lifestyle changes if they have the right support. We aim to seize upon this ‘reachable moment’ to interrupt the immediate cycle of violence and help prevent further misery. We have already seen life changing outcomes from working this way and we look forward to being able to support more people.”

Dr Christine Goodall of MAV added: “We know from our evaluation of Navigator the service is something that benefits both patients and NHS staff. The navigators are skilled in de-escalation and can work alongside the staff to help patients accept investigations and treatment. The staff can leave their shift reassured patients will be rapidly followed-up in the community and supported with the complex social issues that fall outside the remit of emergency care. Our hope for QEUH is Navigator will continue to support patients towards better and happier lives free from violence and that it will contribute to benefits for the NHS in the longer term by reducing re-attendance and the costs associated with that.


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