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Attacks on medical staff – zero tolerance approach needed, says Bradley

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An East Londonderry MLA has said that he is ‘totally appalled’ by figures released today detailing the number of attacks on nurses, doctors and healthcare workers.

The figures released from Northern Ireland’s five Health Trusts show that last year there were 6,651 attacks on health care staff – 6,138 were directed at nurses, 97 were doctors and there were 416 attacks on other HSC staff.

“In the Northern Trust there were a total of 467 attacks – in my view that is 467 too many.

“The figures reveal that 452 nurses, nine doctors and six other medical staff were attacked in the last year,” explained Bradley.

“The dedicated staff in our hospitals work extremely hard in highly pressured environments – they should not have to put up with verbal or physical abuse from those that they are treating or those accompanying them.

“Visiting a hospital can be a very difficult time for someone who is unwell or indeed their families, they do not need the added annoyance of someone behaving inappropriately.

“I would encourage the courts to continue their zero tolerance approach to those involved in any kind of antisocial behaviour in our hospitals,” he concluded.

Commenting on the NI figures, Northern Ireland’s Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Charlotte McArdle said: “People tend to think the majority of these attacks occur in A&E Departments where alcohol or drug abuse appear to be causal factors. The majority of recorded incidents across the HSC are linked to persons with mental health and learning disability rather than any malicious intent.

“Whilst many of these incidents are a direct result of illness Employers need to understand how to meet their responsibilities to employees to fulfil their duty of care and to do that they have to understand particular issues associated with providing care in challenging and complex situations.”

Each HSC Trust operates a robust Zero Tolerance Policy, overseen by a Senior Director. The policy requires the provision of a working environment where employees can undertake their duties without fear of abuse or violence.
“Whilst it is recognised that incidents of an aggressive or violent nature cannot be fully eliminated, the policy provides a means to manage and minimise the risk to employees. It aims to ensure that all staff are aware of, and are protected from, as far as is reasonably practical, violent or potentially violent situations that may occur within Trust facilities and/or whilst staff are on duty,” said Charlotte McArdle.

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