Acid attacks NHS publishes guidelines on protection

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Incidents of acid attacks in Britain have increased. Witnesses to acid attacks are being told how to help victims, as the number of assaults with corrosive substances continues to rise.

Victims can be left blind or severely disfigured, and the minutes after an attack are critical in helping those affected, health officials said.

The new Report, Remove, Rinse guidance from NHS England urges witnesses or victims to report the attack by calling 999, carefully remove contaminated clothing and immediately rinse skin in running water.

NHS England has shared the advice with emergency responders including police and ambulance personnel, so they know what to do if they are called to the scene of a corrosive substance attack.

The new guidance comes as health officials have noted a rise in the number of people in England requiring specialist help for this type of assault.

In 2014, 16 people required specialist medical advice, rising to 25 in 2015 and 32 last year, NHS England said.

The number of people requiring help from specialist burns units – where the most severe cases are treated – is expected to rise further this year.

Victims whose injuries are not as severe can be treated and discharged by doctors in emergency departments.

More than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks were carried out in the six months up to April this year, according to figures from 39 police forces in England and Wales.

Working with the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), NHS England has also created an online tool offering guidance and support to victims and their families.