NURSES in the Western Health Trust were attacked on average twice daily in 2018 according to newly released figures.
There was a total of 798 attacks on Western Trust nurses last year, with a further 18 on doctors in the region and 53 on other Health and Social Care (HSC) staff.
Nurses in the neighbouring Southern Health Trust – which covers Dungannon and South Tyrone – recorded 395 attacks on nursing staff.
Based on the figures released from Northern Ireland’s five Health Trusts it is clear that nurses receive that largest proportion of attacks. Across the five trusts there was a total of 6,651 attacks on health care staff of which 6,138 were directed at nurses, 97 were doctors and 416 attacks on other healthcare staff.
Charlotte McArdle, chief nursing officer (CNO) in the North, said any form of attack on nurses and other healthcare workers is “totally unacceptable”.
“These experiences have a hugely negative impact on their performance at work as well as physical and mental health of healthcare staff, and their personal and family relationships. Healthcare workers often express an understanding as to why some people they work with may behave in certain ways, sometimes that’s due to illness but often it’s just unacceptable behaviour.”
Ms McArdle explained that the majority of recorded incidents across the Trusts 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,” she continued.
All five HSC Trusts operate a robust Zero Tolerance Policy which requires the provision of a working environment where employees can undertake their duties without fear of abuse or violence.
Ms McArdle added, “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.”