The HSE’s moratorium on recruitment will likely mean an increase in violence in healthcare settings, the INMO has said.
Almost 60% of all recorded workplace incidents involving aggression or violence took place in the healthcare sector this year, according to the latest Health and Safety Authority statistics.
Recently, restrictions have been placed on hiring new staff and INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said this would likely exacerbate the problem.
“It makes absolutely no sense that you would put a moratorium on recruitment… in nursing and midwifery grades,” she told The Pat Kenny Show.
“Because the fewer people you have at work, the higher the level of frustration in those attending.
“All of the studies tell us that when you have poor staffing levels, aggression and violence against the staff, unfortunately, increases.”
Long waiting times
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said many people think violence in hospitals mostly takes place in emergency departments or psychiatric wards but that is an outdated stereotype.
“Unfortunately, there is an ever-increasing number of incidents now in general wards or children’s hospitals,” she said.
“A lot of it is coming from frustration among the general public who are waiting for services and the nurse might be the first person they see - or the only person they see in some incidents.
“A lot of our members are reporting that they are dealing with a lot of aggression and frustration from patients [or] from their relatives in respect of the long wait times and the uncomfortable circumstances in which they’re waiting.”
"Assaults are out of control. I do not feel safe in my workplace. I don’t want to work in that environment any more.”
At least 7 nurses and midwives are assaulted in their workplace every day. Two brave nurses have told us about assaults in their workplaces. pic.twitter.com/ZyNHecAtZM
— Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (@INMO_IRL) May 5, 2022
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the Health and Safety Authority could be “doing a lot more” to protect healthcare workers.
“We’ve asked the Health and Safety Authority to look at what they’ve done in construction [and] in manufacturing - they’ve done some very good work in making those workplaces safe,” she said.
“What we’ve said to them is they have to view the health service as a workplace and take the same approach.
“So, they have agreed and they’re now establishing an advisory subgroup within the Health and Safety Authority, mirroring what happens in construction.”
After the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2023 was signed into law this summer, the maximum sentence for assaulting a frontline worker was increased to 12 years to “appropriately reflect the harm caused” by such attacks.
Main image: A nurse sitting on the chair.