Alarm over sharp rise in attacks on hospital staff

INCIDENTS of physical attacks reported by staff at the South West Acute Hospital have experienced a sharp rise. 
Over a twelve month period the number of reported attacks rose by almost 40 percent. Figures released following a Freedom of Information request by the Fermanagh Herald outline a total of 68 reported physical attacks on staff at the local hospital in 2019. The total for 2018 sat at 49.
Commenting Councillor Diana Armstrong said there is an urgent need to address safety of medical staff. 
“Frontline staff who are dedicated to caring for patients and saving lives need to be safeguarded, as the upward incidence of verbal and physical abuse attacks has serious ramifications for their own physical and mental health.
“Like many others, I have witnessed, with alarm, threatening and irrational behaviour directed against A&E staff; dedicated professionals working under the most stressful conditions.” 
Cllr Armstrong added that various factors may contribute to physical attacks, such as, waiting times, substance abuse, pain and fear. 
Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh also voiced his shock at the “significant increase”.
“Every worker has the right to go about their day’s work free from any form of harassment or threat of assault. There is absolutely no excuse for any threat, harassment or physical attack on workers in our NHS.
“While delays in getting treatment may cause understandable frustrations, it is certainly not the fault of the nurses and support workers who are underpaid and working under huge pressures covering for an unprecedented crisis in staffing levels.
“We need to see investment by the incoming NI Executive to end the delays facing patients and to ensure that the beds are there to enable the swift transfer of patients from the Emergency Department.”
Cllr Victor Warrington added questions need to be asked regarding the increase. Discussing potential reasons he said, “Maybe, frustration over waiting times at A&E could be part of the problem. 
“Alcohol may be part of it but in any instance this is not acceptable. The nurses are overstretched as it is, to have to deal with the likes of this is totally unacceptable.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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