I was obliged to accompany a friend to the A&E Department in Altnagelvin recently and remain there for several hours. I gained an interesting insight into the difficulties faced by medical, nursing and paramedic staff.
Staff were professional, courteous and caring.
I was saddened to witness a number of individuals under the influence of alcohol and other drugs abuse the system and the human right to privacy and confidentiality of individuals who needed urgent medical attention.
Much time was wasted endeavouring to locate individuals who left the department to smoke.
A number of individuals were subjected to menacing, abusive behaviour and foul language.
I would suggest that policy makers and politicians focus on the context in which hospital staff are expected to work under and adopt a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour.
It would not be difficult for a receptionist to electronically control admission and exit to and from the A&E department.
It would be worth considering restricting admission to the injured individual and one family member, relative or concerned person and prohibit the use of mobile phones in the department.
In the interests of rights to privacy and confidentiality, individuals in genuine need of urgent medical assessment should not be expected to experience abusive behaviour from individuals under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
Doctors, nurses and paramedics deserve support for the difficult and demanding work they undertake from hour to hour.
They should not be taken for granted.
Policy makers take note, who knows when you or a member of your family may need such a service?
(Name and Address supplied).