Shocking assaults on medical staff
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
THE Southern Trust has the highest number of recorded physical assaults against staff, patients and members of the public in the north.
Figures released through a Freedom of Information request reveal that since 2009 over 7,500 people have been physically assaulted in hospitals, community facilities and homes in the Southern Trust. More than 5,000 were health care staff.
From the financial year 2009/10 to 2012/13 the Southern Trust also had the highest number of incidents reported against non-staff members out of all five trusts, and the second highest number of assaults on staff.
In the year 2012/13 there were 2147 incidents reported in the Trust, with more than half of the incidents occurring in hospitals.
In total there have been over 30,000 incidents of physical assaults on staff, patients and members of the public throughout the north's health care settings in the last four years.
In 2007, former Health Minister Michael McGimpsey launched the Zero Tolerance campaign aimed at promoting awareness around the issue of attacks on health care staff. All five health and social care trusts, the PSNI, trade unions and the British Medical Association (BMA) were involved with the campaign.
Mr McGimpsey said the department were investing in making workplaces "safer and more secure" and "clamping down on those who display violent or threatening behaviour". The department also said it would back staff who want to report violent incidents as a step to addressing the issue.
However, last week it revealed that the Zero Tolerance working group hasn't met in over a year.
In a statement the Department of Health said: "The Minister is of the opinion that attacks on health care staff are totally unacceptable and remains committed to the Zero Tolerance policy. Zero Tolerance meetings were usually scheduled two or three times a year with the last one held in February 2012, as Zero Tolerance has been mainstreamed into trust responsibilities. Consideration is currently being given as to whether a further regional campaign should be promoted."
In response the Trust said: "The Southern Trust encourages staff to complete incident forms so that each assault can be recorded and dealt with effectively. The Trust has a Zero Tolerance policy against abuse to staff or others; our hospitals have porters on duty 24 hours a say who are trained in dealing with violent and aggressive patients, staff are also trained in how to manage violent situations and how to request immediate assistance from porters or the PSNI if necessary.
“Any staff member or other who is involved in such incidents will receive immediate treatment from the Emergency Department and will be offered counselling and support."
• Over half (4,350) of the assaults in the Southern Trust were in hospitals and over three thousand (3,278) occurred in community setting.
• A further breakdown within the Southern Trust also outlined that there were 33 assaults of patients at home, half of these were in 2012/13 and over one hundred (109) assaults on staff were at patients' homes.
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