WHSCT chair Sam Pollock joins 'Support our Staff' call amid shocking abuse and violence

The chair of the Western Trust board Sam Pollock has come together with his peers across the north to call on politicians and the public to 'Support our Staff' - following shocking increases in the levels of violence against staff - up in some cases by over 20%.

By Kevin Mullan
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:12 pm
WHSCT board chair Sam Bollock is urging politicians to Support our Staff.
WHSCT board chair Sam Bollock is urging politicians to Support our Staff.

In an unprecedented move, the 17 chairs of the north's health bodies and the Fire and Rescue Service have written to every MLA, asking them to be unified in their support for staff and crucial public health messaging.

The intervention follows reports of horrific levels of abuse against front line health, social care and firefighting workers.

According to the HSC Chairs' Forum available data suggests there were over 5500 attacks on staff reported in the 6 months to March 2021 and that the vast majority of these attacks (over 80%) were classified as physical.

Abuse and violence includes biting, spitting, scratching, hitting, kicking, throwing of objects, pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing, verbal threats, sexual assault and abuse on social media

Peter McNaney, Chair of the HSC Chairs' Forum, said: “We are appalled by the increase in the levels of violence towards staff who are already exhausted and continuing to care for people in very difficult conditions. This is beyond intolerable.

"We will discuss concerns with Minister Swann and today we will invite him to support our call to Stop the Abuse. There are a wide range of social factors that contribute to this issue and this will require a multiagency response -including courts, policing, and the voluntary community sector.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland have recognised the extraordinary efforts of HSC staff. As our staff put themselves at risk to care for the most vulnerable in society during the first lockdown, the public took to their doorsteps to Clap for our Carers.”

“We have heard too many reports of ambulance staff facing intimidation, receptionists at hospitals receiving verbal abuse, and doctors and nurses being threatened and even physically assaulted.

“In the Ambulance Service alone, over 600 incidents of violence and aggression towards staff were recorded in the last year. In my own Trust in Belfast, we recorded over 2,500 physical assaults over a six-month period - a 21% increase on the previous year.”