Doctors and nurses at Antrim Area’s Accident and Emergency Department have been subjected to 85 terrifying physical attacks in the last five years, shock new figures reveal.
Violent patients and visitors are assaulting or verbally abusing staff at the local hospital on almost a weekly basis, with 43 attacks at Craigavon’s A&E Department last year.
Department of Health figures released at the Northern Ireland Assembly this week have laid bare the shameful behaviour which threatens the care of the sick and vulnerable.
It is estimated that every A&E worker has been affected by violence and threats in the line of duty.
Across Northern Ireland, staff in hospital emergency departments are being subjected to almost daily violent physical and verbal attacks.
The latest available figures obtained on the number of people charged with assaulting staff working in A&E departments across the north reveal more than five attacks each week.
Royal Victoria Hospital had the worst figures for physical attacks with 105 reported.
The Health Department said it is impossible to say what the outcome of cases was because “details of the number relating to health and social care staff cannot be separated from the overall figures held by the Public Prosecution Service or the PSNI”.
“It is also important to note that prosecutions must be taken forward by the individual employee, not by the employer,” it added.
A spokesperson for the Northern Health Trust said it took the issue seriously. “Violence or abuse to our staff is totally unacceptable and in many cases will result in action being taken by the PSNI.
“A Security Guard is based within the Emergency Departments at Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital to reduce the likelihood of incidents of violence and aggression. Some support services staff have also received de-escalation training and can be called upon by staff for additional support. We would ask all members of our community when attending our hospitals to support us in providing care, by making sure our staff don’t also have to deal with violence or abuse.”