How information design has been used to reduce violence against NHS staff

Whenever I have visited a hospital, I find myself waiting or lost. If I’m there long enough, these feelings inevitably lead to anxiety and frustration.

These feelings aren’t uncommon, but some people’s frustrations lead to violence against NHS staff.

One in ten NHS staff experience violence at the hands of patients or their relatives. My Mam and Sister are both nurses, so this statistic is something that hits home for me.

Research indicated that poor patient experience is a key driver for the prevalence of violence at A&E departments. Patients and relatives are typically in an unfamiliar environment, they feel unwelcome, and they don’t know what will happen next.

In 2012, the Design council and Department of Health issued an open design brief aimed at reducing violence and aggression specifically in Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments.

Support session held with a small group of A&E staff © Pearson Lloyd

Support session held with a small group of A&E staff © Pearson Lloyd

PearsonLloyd, a London based design consultancy who specialises in the healthcare sector – amongst other things -  took on the project and I really liked how they used information design to solve an aspect of the problem.

PearsonLloyd began the project by researching the violent behaviours and working with front-line staff and patients to understand the underlying issues.

As part of improving the patient experience, a ‘Guidance’ design solution was recommended. The solution is a set of information touchpoints such as effective signage, clear typography, leaflets and a digital platform with live waiting times.  This allowed the patient journey to be clearly communicated, allowing patients to be informed of what will happen next or how long it might take bridging the gap between patient expectation and the complexity of the actual treatment process. 

This solution could be deployed at any A&E department to communicate the patient journey in clear and easy to understand manner to reduce patient stress and frustrations.

Following a one-year trial of the system, patient’s perception of the guidance solution and instances of aggression were measured.

© Pearson Lloyd

© Pearson Lloyd

© Pearson Lloyd

© Pearson Lloyd

To read more about the project by PearsonLloyd visit:

I believe, the use of information design could be used to address a number of issues within healthcare such as poor inhaler technique, anxiety while using self-injection systems or medication errors by healthcare proffesionals to name a few.  

How can information design be used to help your patients or customers? Contact me to find out.