Staff at the Saolta Hospital Group, which includes UHG, Merlin Park, and Portiuncula hospitals, have been assaulted 68 times so far this year, more than any other hospital group in the country.
These figures given to Sinn Féin health spokesperson Lousie O’Reilly show that there have been a total of 279 assaults at HSE hospitals in 2019.
The incident figures provided by the HSE cover from January 1 to June 12 of this year.
They show that by far the most frequently attacked people in hospitals are nurses who suffered 90% of all assaults in hospitals.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has blamed the problems on understaffing, overcrowding and undercapacity, which the union described as creating a “pressure cooker environment”.
“Any assault on a frontline health worker is completely unacceptable,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha, who added that nurses ate bearing “the brunt of the assaults”.
However these figures only represent the tip of the iceberg according to Phil Ní Sheaghdha, and the the true figure is likely higher.
“Many more assaults go unreported, as nurses are often too busy to stop work and do the paperwork. The statistics also do not include voluntary hospitals, where problems are likely just as bad.”
“Overcrowded, understaffed services create a pressure cooker environment. Patients can get frustrated at conditions and a tiny minority unacceptably lash out at staff.
“That means frontline staff being put at risk for conditions they are not responsible for,” she said.
The union leader said that proper staffing would make care faster and better, which would ensure that tension doesn’t build up in hospitals.
In its response to Deputy O’Reilly the HSE said that training places an emphasis on equipping the hospital workforce with skills on risk identification and management of aggression.
The Sinn Féin TD said that “The safety of the excellent staff in our health service as they discharge their duties is paramount.”
“Any assault or attempted assault on a member of the health service as they try to do their job is unacceptable.”
“The HSE, and the Minister for Health, need to increase measures to reduce the number of assaults our nurses face.”
“Workers in our hospitals and across the heath service do an amazing job in caring for the health needs of the people and they deserve the right to be able to do their jobs without fear of facing assault.”