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Date: 21 November 2017

Time: 13:59

Hospital staff help to combat loan sharks

Story posted/last updated: 01 August 2013

Emergency Department staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham have been working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to find out more about the dangers of loan sharks, in order to help their patients.

In the first partnership of its kind in England, Emergency Department staff have attended awareness sessions led by the England Illegal Money Team who are hosted by Birmingham City Council. Further sessions are planned in the coming months.

The sessions cover the ways in which loan sharks operate and the impact they can have on individuals and communities, and advise staff on what they can do if they come across a patient who has been the victim of a loan shark.

It is hoped the staff will be able to utilise what they have learnt and be alert if they believe a loan shark is operating in order to support the patient and signpost them towards the team for help.

There are an estimated 310,000 households across the UK using loan sharks. The lenders operate illegally, rarely offer paperwork and are usually unclear on the terms of the loan. Exorbitant rates of interest will often be added - the highest seen is 131,000 per cent APR so borrowers are often left with nothing as they pay back far and above what they have borrowed and can afford.

Many lenders also resort to violence, threats and intimidation to enforce repayment.

For NHS staff, an awareness of the issue and how to report it is vital should they come across a patient who has been subjected to violence by a loan shark. 

Past cases have shown, loan sharks operating in hospitals and lending to staff, so the sessions will cover the reasons why loan sharks are so dangerous and encourage staff to avoid them at all costs.

Dominic Meza, Emergency Department Specialist Nurse attended the sessions. He said: “The sessions were greatly welcomed by everybody in attendance. It was felt that this raised a lot of awareness of other issues surrounding some of the patients we see in the Emergency Department who present with anxiety and depression, or who may have taken overdoses.

“As a result, from now on, nurses will endeavour to find out more of the reasons behind such incidences and offer advice and point them in the right direction if issues of loan sharking are detected.

“We have already put some of the cards and posters in the ED reception to increase awareness to our patients and relatives who visit us of how to access help regarding loan sharking.

“We will be looking to hold future sessions, and also believe this presentation would benefit doctors as well as they spend a bit more time with patients in the department.”

Jacqui Kennedy Director of Regulatory Services in Birmingham oversees the England Illegal Money Lending Team. She said “Loan sharks have a horrific impact on individuals and communities, using the most callous methods to squeeze every penny from their borrowers. Working with our partners in the NHS we are raising awareness with those who work in the heart of our communities, showing them how dangerous loan sharks can be and that help is available. We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222.”

Nationally the Stop Loan Sharks Project has secured more than 210 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 130 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped more than 18,000 victims.

To report a loan shark

You can report a loan shark by using the 24/7 confidential hotline or email address below. Alternatively, text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003.

Tel: 0300 555 2222
Email: reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

Further information on the Stop Loan Sharks Project is available on Facebook and the Directgov website.

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