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Top Royal London Hospital surgeon named as NHS's first violence reduction chief to tackle stabbings

PUBLISHED: 11:12 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:12 20 June 2019

Martin Griffiths has been named as the NHS's first violence reduction chief. Picture: BARTS HEALTH NHS TRUST

Martin Griffiths has been named as the NHS's first violence reduction chief. Picture: BARTS HEALTH NHS TRUST

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The NHS has named a top surgeon as its first clinical director for violence reduction to help stem the tide of stabbings and violent crime in the capital.

Royal London consultant surgeon Martin Griffiths. The hospital's 'violence reduction' trauma team won the 'prevention and lifestyle' Team of the Year title at the British Medical Journal 2019 awards. Picture: Philip CoburnRoyal London consultant surgeon Martin Griffiths. The hospital's 'violence reduction' trauma team won the 'prevention and lifestyle' Team of the Year title at the British Medical Journal 2019 awards. Picture: Philip Coburn

Martin Griffiths, a consultant trauma surgeon at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, has spent the past 10 years visiting schools to lecture on the dangers of carrying weapons as well as saving lives on the operating table.

His appointment as clinical director for violence reduction in London comes after another weekend of bloodshed which saw three more people killed in the capital.

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.

Martin is a consultant trauma surgeon at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Picture: Mike BrookeMartin is a consultant trauma surgeon at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Picture: Mike Brooke

"By working together across the NHS there is more we can do to prevent these attacks happening in the first place."

He added that he wants to build a network that will empower communities across London to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that lead to 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 per cent from 656 six years ago.

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Martin's appointment was welcomed by NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, who said the approach could be adopted across the country.

Mr Stevens said: "Violent crime destroys lives and as a society we need to do far more to reduce it.

"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."

After operating on young knife victims admitted in their school uniforms, Martin and his colleagues set up a pioneering ward-based violence reduction service.

His award-winning scheme sees hospital staff and case workers at the St Giles Trust charity 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 45pc to less than 1pc.

Lib Peck, director of London's Violence Reduction Unit, said: "I am delighted the NHS has appointed someone of Martin's experience and I look forward to working closely with him to tackle all forms of violence in the capital."

There were 136 murders in the capital in 2018 while the total number of London homicides, excluding victims of terrorism, has shot up by 38 per cent since 2014, an NHS spokeswoman said.

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