09 Aug 2022

162 attacks on nursing staff recorded at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry over the past year

Altnagelvin A&E
THE Western Trust has pledged it will continue its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to assaults on medical staff after it emerged there were 162 attacks on nurses at Altnagelvin Hospital in the past year. For the period April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 there has been a total of 162 recorded incidents of verbal and/or physical abuse towards nursing staff at the Derry hospital. Across the Western Trust area 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. And for the same period, 358 recorded incidents of verbal and/or physical abuse towards mental health staff. A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said it is committed to the regional ‘Zero Tolerance' campaign which clearly states that any form of attack or abuse of staff is unacceptable. She added: “No member of staff in any part of the Western area whether in hospital or community care settings, should be subjected to any form of attack or abuse. “The Trust is concerned that any of their staff would experience any type of threatening behaviour in the course of their duty and would reiterate that this is not acceptable and firm action will always be taken in such incidents. “Healthcare workers appreciate the support they receive from their patients and the public. No one wants to see attacks on Trust staff who are committed to providing high quality care and they must be allowed to carry out their role within a safe environment.” Meanwhile, a Derry MLA believes there is a link between the rise in attacks on nurses at Altnagelvin hospital and staff shortages brought about by government-imposed NHS cuts. SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan MLA has said ‘it goes without saying that these sort of attacks shouldn’t be tolerated against anyone, let alone people who are there trying to provide care to the public’. “It’s a phenomenon that’s on the rise and it’s down to numerous factors such as how people are presenting at hospital,” he told the Derry News. “There has been an increase in the use of psycho-active substances. “I also think there’s a clear parallel between the number of attacks on nurses and the number of nurses. “The fewer staff that there are on wards the more vulnerable they are to this type of attack and, to counter that, the more people hear of attacks the more it may deter them from getting into nursing.” He added: “There could also be infrastructural changes to the layout of the hospital which could reduce risk.” In his view, there is an issue regarding a lack of acute care for people with mental health issues which means they are taken into a hospital environment when they shouldn’t be, where unsavoury incidents can follow. “If there were adequate staff numbers and support for staff then that could be drastically reduced, but these attacks are never excusable,” Mr Durkan added. “Previous health ministers have had a lack of adequate workforce planning.”

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