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Where and when: Almost 10,000 assaults on HSE staff in past 10 years

Assaults on nursing staff made up the vast majority of these, accounting for 70% with 6,964 assaults.

Image: Shutterstock/Spotmatik Ltd

OVER THE PAST 10 years, there have been almost 10,000 assaults on HSE staff.

From 2008 up until the end of April of this year, there has been a total of 9,901 assaults on staff.

The information was provided by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) after Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly asked for a breakdown.

Assaults on nursing staff made up the vast majority of these, accounting for 70% with 6,964 assaults. Last year alone there were 587 assaults on nurses.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Phil Ní Sheaghdha said assaults go up when staffing levels go down and more nursing staff are needed.

Tech and maintenance staff were the least likely to be assaulted with nine assaults over the past 10 years. There were four assaults in 2015, three in 2014, one in both 2017 and 2012 and none in the other years.

Overall, when eight different work categories were taken into consideration, the highest number of assaults happened in 2008 when 1,201 staff were assaulted, followed by 2014 (1,070) and 2016 and 2010 – which both had 989 assaults.

Table 1 Source: NIMS

Click here for a larger image of the above table.

The assaults were also broken down into six hospital groups. RCSI Dublin North East, Dublin Midlands, Ireland East, South/South West, University Limerick Midwest Hospital Group and Saolta West/North West Hospital Group.

Hospitals in Ireland are organised into these groups, the list of every hospital in the country and what group they are under is available to see here on the HSE website.

The number of hospitals in the groups ranges from five to 11. The Ireland East Hospital Group has the highest number of hospitals (11). However, it was not the group with the highest number of assaults.

The information provided by NIMS shows that the highest number of assaults (2,331)  took place in the RCSI Dublin north east hospital group.

The RCSI group includes Beaumont Hospital, Connolly Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, Louth County Hospital Dundalk, Cavan General Hospital, Monaghan Hospital and the Rotunda Hospital.

The next in line was the South/South West Hospital Group with 2,013 assaults. Nine hospitals make up this group. It was followed by the Ireland East Group (11 hospitals) with 1,742 assaults.

Table 2 Source: NIMS

Click here for a larger image of the above table

On the other end of the scale the University Limerick Midwest Hospital Group had the lowest number of assaults with 872.

However, it should be noted that this has the lowest number of hospitals of all the groups.

There are five hospitals in the UL group – University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and Croom Hospital.

Speaking about the figures Louise O’Reilly said, “Violence against staff cannot and should not be tolerated and the worrying trend of increases in assaults against staff in our health service should cause concern at the highest levels in the HSE.

“The situation for frontline staff in the health service, especially nurses, has significantly deteriorated over the past number of years.

Conditions have worsened, hours have become longer, the environment has become characterised by high stress levels, and a particularly acute aspect is that nursing has become an extremely high risk occupation in terms of aggression and physical assault.

“Doctors, nurses and their representatives will tell you that there is a direct link between short staffing and increases in assaults and central to this rise in assaults is the recruitment and retention crisis in the HSE.

“The HSE managers should be ensuring that there is a 24/7 security presence in our Emergency Departments (not simply near or available to). A clear message needs to be sent out that violence will not be tolerated and that staff will be supported.”

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