LONE community workers like district nurses who face potential danger in their jobs are to be continually tracked to within five metres by control room staff.

The pinpoint assistance comes via a revolutionary new mobile phone introduced by the Lancashire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Its introduction coincides with new figures which show health staff are facing growing numbers of assaults.

The phones will send back data displaying a worker's location on digital street maps.

And users will be able to press a button if they hit trouble. It will indicate to control room staff that they are in danger via a text message.

The police will then be called in immediately.

Health visitors, district nurses and homeless team workers will be the first to benefit.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on Lancashire ambulance personnel and health workers in the past year, with the trust reporting incidents had almost doubled from 68 to 112.

Workers face a rise in physical assaults, extreme verbal abuse and threatening behaviour.

A recent report said staff in East Lancashire were now as likely to be assaulted as their counterparts in the bigger cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

A spokesman said: "The trust has taken vital steps to improve the safety of lone community workers in the area by trailing this new software and mobile telephone package.

"We needed a communications solution which accurately monitors employees' whereabouts, as well as indicating an emergency situation."

Leading business provider Anglo Communications has set up the pilot project, which will last three months.

"Control room operators will know from status messages if an employee has encountered any difficulties or needs assistance," the spokesman said.

These status messages are delivered via the phone's short messaging service -- text messaging.

By pressing a button a worker can indicate that they are safe from any potential danger. If an emergency does occur, he presses the special button that relays an emergency signal.

Control room staff can then tell the police of the worker's whereabouts which are indicated on screen.

If successful, the scheme could be rolled out to the rest of the country.