Paul Frew, DUP MLA and poll topper for North Antrim has made the first steps on the road to producing a Private Members bill that, if passed, will bring Accident & Emergency Workers into line with Police officers, Firefighters & Ambulance workers and bring in tougher sentencing for assaulting them in the execution of their duties.
Incidentally it was Paul Frew who brought Ambulance workers into line last term through an amendment to the Justice No2 bill in the Assembly.
Paul Frew stated “Staff working in A&E face enormous pressures on a daily basis administrating first aid and healthcare to people who need it quickly and urgently. On many occasions they have to also be aware of the threat to their own health .Staff have been left with fractured bones, damaged eyes and broken noses after they were punched, kicked and manhandled by violent patients.
They have had their hair ripped out, bitten and scratched. This has a massive impact on their health even when they can return to work but the very fact that that staff member is having to take time away from the front line could put other lives at risk too.
In the 12 month period from April 14 to April 15 a total of 6,091 physical attacks on staff were reported across the five health trusts.
This private Members Bill if passed will not stop all assaults but it would bring in tougher sentencing that hopefully will act as a deterrent and make people realise the service that these workers provide, I have no doubt it is up there with Police Officers, Firefighters & Ambulance.”