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Over 1,400 nursing and mental health staff in west faced abusive attacks in past year, figures reveal

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Nurses and other National Health Service staff are facing an increase in verbal and physical violence, according to latest figures available. Some have even said they are afraid to go to work and it was time the Western Trust adopted a more rigorous 'zero tolerance' policy in relation to this.

That was the claim this week, which incidentally is Mental Health Awareness Week, from the chairman of the 2,000-strong Unison union in Fermanagh and Tyrone, Andy McKane. He said he and his colleagues were no strangers to what's become a growing phenomenon - escalating incidents of violence perpetrated by patients and even family members against frontline health care staff and action was now required.

Figures released by the Western Trust yesterday (Tuesday), reveal that across the Trust for the period  April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, there has been a total of 1,052 recorded incidents of verbal and/or physical abuse towards nursing staff. There has also been a total of 358 recorded incidents of verbal and/or physical abuse towards mental health staff recorded for the same period.

Mr McKane said this scenario was played out in hospitals across the Trust and throughout the system, with nurses, personal support workers and other staff bearing the brunt of patients' emotional meltdowns.

"They may be people with mental illness, people high on opiates, people distressed about the quality of their care, or distressed about the length of time they've waited - and they take that aggression out on the healthcare staff that they meet," said Mr McKane.

'Unacceptable'

"In Northern Ireland alone there are three reported assaults a week on our ambulance staff which is unacceptable. Across the UK attacks on mental health staff is up 25 percent over the past four years, from 33,000 to 42,000 and the latest reports we have from the Western Trust's area show over 600 assaults in the 2016-17 year - and that's only the assaults that are reported," he said.

 

Full story in this week's Tyrone Constitution...

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