Over five hundred nurses, doctors and other health care workers were assaulted across the Western Trust over the past year with the health authority saying abuse of its staff in any setting is totally unacceptable.
Figures newly-released by the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill show the appalling level of abuse suffered by Western Trust staff between September 2015 to September 2016.
During that period there were 504 assaults on nurses, 24 assaults on doctors, and 34 assaults on other health workers during that period.
This included 74 assaults at Altnagelvin, 192 assaults at Lakeview in Gransha, and 106 assaults at the Waterside Hospital, also in Gransha.
Responding to the figures a spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust said: “The Western Trust is committed to the regional ‘zero tolerance’ campaign which clearly states that any form of attack or abuse of staff is not acceptable.
“No member of staff in any part of the Western Trust area whether in hospital or community care settings, should be subjected to any form of attack or abuse.”
CCTV coverage, nurse attack alarms and call systems are among the preventative protection measures that have been adopted in order to try to stop attacks.
“The Trust has a number of systems in place in various locations which provides assistance to staff and allows incidents to be reviewed, for example, staff attack alarm systems, nurse call system and CCTV,” the spokesperson said.
“All portering staff have a security remit and porters base themselves close to the Emergency Departments during set periods overnight. “Portering staff and other key clinical staff groups are trained in techniques to help manage aggression.”
The spokesperson expressed concern that such behaviour persisted against care-givers despite the nature of the work they do and the high profile ‘zero tolerance’ campaign aimed at stamping out assaults on medical staff.
“The Trust is concerned that any of their staff would experience any type of threatening behaviour in the course of their duty and would reiterate that this is not acceptable and firm action will always be taken in such incidents,” the spokesperson said.
“Healthcare workers appreciate the support they receive from their patients and the public. No-one wants to see attacks on Trust staff who are committed to providing high quality care and they must be allowed to carry out their role within a safe environment.”