NHS to send surgeons into schools to combat knife crime epidemic
Mr Stevens told a conference in Manchester that the NHS needed to do far more to tackle the “horrific” problems seen in many parts of the country, which have seen children paid to carry out stabbings.The NHS has appointed Martin Griffiths, a surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, as clinical director for violence reduction in London, with plans to expand the schemes across the country over the next year.Mr Griffiths has spent the past decade visiting schools to lecture on the dangers of carrying weapons, with youth workers brought into wards to counsel victims of crime, and help them escape gang culture.In six years, this has reduced the number of young people returning to the hospital with further injuries from 45 per cent to less than 1 per cent.The surgeon set up the schemes after operating on young knife victims admitted in their school uniforms.Mr Stevens said other sectors also needed to act to tackle the scourge of knife crime. Surgeons will be sent into schools under NHS plans to combat Britain’s epidemic of knife crime.The health service has appointed its first “violence reduction” tsar in a bid to cut levels of violence, by educating children about the consequences of stabbings.The radical schemes will also see youth workers helping victims of gang crime while they are still being treated in hospital to help break the cycle of violence Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, said hospitals needed to have a “wider role” acting on major issues affecting society, such as knife crime.The number of teenagers admitted to hospital as a result of stabbings has risen by 55 per cent in six years, with almost 5,000 such admissions last year in England among all age groups.There were 136 murders in the capital in 2018 – a 38 per cent rise since 2014. He told the NHS Confederation conference: “It’s not just the NHS that needs to take action, it is far too easy for young people to buy a knife – zombie knives or kitchen knives. In some cases it is easier to buy a knife than beer. Retailers are going to have to step up.”Mr Griffiths 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.”Mr 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.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.