Irish nurses subjected to over 7,500 assaults since the beginning of the pandemic
Figures show an alarmingly high rate of abuse faced by healthcare workers doing their job.
Irish nurses have suffered over 7,500 assaults at work since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, HSE figures show.
Over the past seven years, 33,341 assaults on nurses were recorded – 7,737 of which took place in 2020 and 2021 as they worked the frontline.
According to the Irish Examiner, Ireland's main nursing body is now calling for an urgent review of hospital security in fears that health workers are not being adequately protected.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) says nurses have described being punched, threatened, abused and intimidated whilst on the job.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said such figures were “unacceptable”.
“We need to know what measures are being put in place to protect a largely female workforce,” she said.
“The employer’s remit is to provide a safe workplace. This level of reported incidence is completely unacceptable.”
Figures from the HSE’s national incident management scheme also show that in 2020, over 8,667 staff reported physical, verbal and sexual assault in the workplace.
“Our hardworking staff are firefighting on so many fronts at the moment. We need assurances that the employer is taking measures to protect nurses and midwives seriously because the rise in incidents of assault is a serious cause of concern,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha continued.
“Our hospitals are not just full, they are overcrowded and this creates a pressure cooker type environment. With that, frustration can run high and a tiny minority unacceptably attack staff. This means that frontline staff are being put at risk for conditions they are not responsible for.”
Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond, who sought the figures from the HSE, said they highlight the scale of abuse faced by healthcare workers doing their job.
He called for the HSE to complete a thorough audit of current security measures and response times, while also suggesting stiffer sentences for those found guilty of assaulting a healthcare worker.
“The message must be loud and clear; there is zero-tolerance for abuse of our medical professionals in any form. Entering a hospital does not give you an excuse to abuse the very people that are there to help,” he said.