Hospital attacks ‘put lives at risk’
A LOCAL councillor has warned that attacks on medical staff in the hospital and ambulance drivers is putting lives at risk.
Alliance member Neil Kelly issued the warning after the Northern Trust confirmed to the Times that between April and June of this year there were a total of 41 incidents of attacks on staff in Antrim Hospital, with 12 of the incidents occurring in the Accident and Emergency Department.
This follows a report in the Times earlier this year which revealed that from April 2009 up until the end of March this year, there was a total of 525 incidents. Of these, 120 took place in the Emergency Department.
Just a week ago, approximately £600 worth of damage was caused to a mirrored panel in the attack on an ambulance in Antrim.
The ambulance had been attending a call in the Dublin Road in the town when the damage was caused to the vehicle.
Councillor Neil Kelly - himself a healthcare worker - this week warned that these attacks on medical staff distracts them away from their job and could mean patients being placed in in potentially life-threatening situations.
He said: “A nurse’s time is important; they are under increased pressure in very difficult circumstances and shouldn’t have to deal with abuse or attacks.
“Behaviour like this can put lives at risk, if their focus is diverted away from the patient because of an attack then this could put patients in danger.”
A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said: “In line with the DHSSPS, the Trust has a zero tolerance policy towards violence to staff.
“As employers we are not prepared to tolerate abuse of or attacks on our staff.”
Cllr. Kelly said he was supportive of this zero tolerance approach, and added: “There is a zero tolerance policy and I feel that we should all adopt this approach.
“Under no circumstances is this type of behaviour acceptable, anyone breaking the law through abuse or attacks on staff must be dealt with.
“I am supportive of the judicial system and the way it handles offences of this nature, especially those in Antrim Hospital being dealt with in court.
“The courts must focus on this issue and punish any one involved.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said that attacks in Antrim are rare, but added that the NIAS has concerns over the mindset of those who “continue, despite the socially unacceptable nature of their behaviour, to hinder our crews as they seek to respond to people in need”.
NIAS confirmed it will continue to work with local community groups to tackle this problem, along with the PSNI, to ensure that those responsible are brought before the courts.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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