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Medics join effort to tackle serious youth violence

By Neil Puffett

| 15 October 2012

Doctors in hospitals across England and Wales are to help tackle serious youth violence as part of a project that teaches gang members how to save their friends’ lives if they are shot or stabbed.

A hospital emergency department

Doctors will use their accident and emergency training to give young people life saving skills. Image: Morguefile

The Street Doctors initiative was set up in 2008 by two doctors at Liverpool’s Fazakerley Hospital, but until now has only been run in Merseyside, London, Manchester and Nottingham.

Through partnerships with youth offending teams, doctors work with under-18s, including gang members, teaching them skills to provide pre-hospital basic trauma management on the streets in order to “buy time” for professional medics.

The model is now set to be replicated across England and Wales after around 80 medical students from other cities visited Liverpool over the weekend to learn how the scheme works and take it back to their areas.

The initiative has been backed by John Bache, chair of the youth courts committee of the Magistrates’ Association, who was previously an accident and emergency doctor.

“If somebody has been stabbed, the minutes afterwards can be absolutely critical,” Bache said. “If a knife goes into the liver, spleen or kidney, an extra few minutes while waiting for the professionals to come can certainly save lives. I have seen that myself on a number of occasions.

“Any first aid skills that these young people don’t otherwise have, that is taught by professionals, could be beneficial.”

So far the scheme is believed to have saved the lives of three young people, but according to anecdotal evidence the project can also persuade young people to leave gangs.

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