Ireland’s healthcare workers are being punched, kicked and spat at on a daily basis.
New figures show that over 7,300 physical, verbal or sexual assaults on healthcare staff were reported to the HSE in the last 18 months.
The figures, released to Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane through Parliamentary Question, show that nurses suffer the highest number of assaults.
These healthcare assistants at a Dublin Hospital told Newstalk just how bad the abuse is.
“There’s kicks and punches,” said one. “I’ve been spat at. Threatened.”
“I’ll wait for you outside after your shift … I know where you live, I know your name because of your ID badge – stuff like that you know?”
He said things are “very, very bad” in Irish hospitals – with patients verbally abusive and very aggressive.
“Sometimes you go home and say to yourself, no money in the world is worth this,” he said.
“The pay is not even great at the moment so a lot of people have left and can’t cope. It is just a lot of pressure on them to try and do their job as well and they just can’t.”
In all nurses reported 4,420 incidents on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in the past 18 months.
Some 2,442 of the incidents were reported by ‘other staff’, with 232 attacks on Allied Health Professionals, 59 on catering/housekeeping staff and 100 on medical staff.
The figures suggest an average of 12 or 13 incidents happen every day in Irish hospitals.
This healthcare worker said the figures don’t show the full picture.
“I’d say there’s more,” they said. “That’s a figure that is picked out of the air. It’s more than 12. I think it’s actually worse.”
In a statement, the HSE said the safety of employees and patients remains its priority concern.
“The HSE is committed to creating a safe environment within which to work or to be treated,” it said.
“The organisation will continue to place an emphasis on the management of work-related aggression and violence in 2022.
Additional reporting Michael Staines.