Dublin’s Mater Hospital has asked Gardaí to carry out more patrols around its grounds due to a rise in criminal and anti-social behaviour.
In a letter to Gardaí earlier this summer, the hospital warned of a rise in open drug dealing and anti-social behaviour in its Emergency Department
The email, released to the Irish Independent, also voiced concerns about patients being brought to the Emergency Department without any handover provided to hospital staff.
In another email, the hospital said it was especially worried about the nurses’ education centre – which is located close to the main hospital.
It said security staff were regularly forced to move on drug users from the centre’s exterior basement, with maintenance teams regularly called in to remove abandoned bedding an alcohol cans.
It noted that security staff had to intervene for safety reasons on five occasions over three weeks.
Irish Patients Association Director Steve McMahon from the Irish Patients Association (IPA) told Newstalk that staff and patients need to feel safe.
“It is certainly shocking to hear there is open drug dealing in an accident and emergency setting,” he said.
“We already have problems due to overcrowding and all the various pressures that are on staff and patients just in trying to have access in normal situations – but if we have this added situation, that can be quite fearful.”
He said it is essential that staff and patients feel safe in the hospital setting.
“It is very important for the public and for healthcare providers and so on to feel comfortable that they are able to go about heir normal work as really citizens in any part of the city [should be able to] whether it is in a working place that is not in a health setting,” he said.
“But more so here because of the situation with vulnerable patients and staff trying to go about their normal business.”
He said a formal handover is essential when Gardaí are bringing patients into hospital.
“You might find that it some unfortunate patient that is suffering from a psychosis or a psychotic event and it is important for the staff to know the circumstances in which that patient has been brought to them by the Gardaí,” he said.
The hospital has asked Gardaí to increase patrols in the area to help provide a “much-needed sense of safety and reassurance”.