PORTERS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital could be among the staff trained in how to restrain patients physically, to help meet the safety standards demanded by an NHS regulating body.

PORTERS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital could be among the staff trained in how to restrain patients physically, to help meet the safety standards demanded by an NHS regulating body.

But the training will be conducted on a voluntary basis after concerns were raised by staff unhappy at the prospect of having to restrain unco-operative patients physically.

Porters at the hospital contacted The Hunts Post after finding out about the changes, which they said had "not been thought out", while unions called for further discussion.

Hinchingbrooke said that staff would be retrained to use physical intervention, but only on rare occasions and always as a last resort.

The training is in response to a critical report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which identified a "major concern" over the Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust's failure to meet essential standards of quality and safety for patients.

The report, published in March 2011, said the trust was not implementing national and local guidance on safeguarding patients, and highlighted that suitable forms of control and restraint required to protect people using services were not always being used.

At the time, Hinchingbrooke assured the CQC that an action plan was being followed to bring the standards up to the required level.

However, some staff are not happy with the hospital's response.

"Most of us in the duty room are very worried at this forcible restraint request because we feel it is against everything we believe. The whole project, we believe, has not been thought out and the legal consequences are frightening," said the letter, which was signed by "Hinchingbrooke porters".

A spokesman for Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust said: "Restrictive physical intervention is seen as the last in a range of strategies and actions to help Hinchingbrooke staff address the needs of patients to ensure their and others' safety.

"This is treated in a systematic way and staff are being trained appropriately to use this intervention. The trust anticipates that this will be used on rare occasions."