Health Minister Michael McGimpsey today said he was alarmed and disgusted at the increase in attacks on staff by patients.
The number of times the PSNI has been called to deal with a patient who has become threatening, abusive or violent has dramatically increased particularly in the Belfast and South Eastern Trust areas.
The Minister said:
“I am absolutely appalled and disgusted by these violent and uncalled for attacks on health care staff. The figures in Belfast have more than doubled to 218 and in the South Eastern Trust have risen almost five times to 124 attacks.”
“For patients who need urgent treatment to then attack the very people who have come to help them is disgraceful and these people should be thoroughly ashamed of their behaviour. Not only are they disruptive to other ill patients, but they are draining staff resources to deal with this where it could be better used.”
“People who assault any health and social care staff should face the full force of the law. That is why I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Police and Public Prosecution Services to ensure the protection of health service staff.”
Healthcare staff and emergency services continue to be subjected to verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis. Last year alone there were over 8,000 cases of verbal and physical abuse against healthcare staff.
Mr McGimpsey said:
“I wish to reinforce the message of zero tolerance: zero tolerance on attacks; zero tolerance on abuse; and zero tolerance on threatening behaviour.”
“Anti social behaviour in hospitals and attacks on healthcare workers is a serious issue and is one that I am working in partnership with the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to address.”