Nearly 30,000 healthcare workers have faced verbal, physical or sexual assaults in the past five years, new figures show.
According to information obtained by the Sunday Times, 29,192 incidents occurred between 2018 and 2022.
An average of 16 health and social care workers a day were assaulted in hospitals and community healthcare facilities.
Nurses accounted for approximately 60% of all assaults, while the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation reported 848 nurses and midwives were assaulted in the first quarter of 2023.
Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane told Newstalk the figures are "deeply concerning.
“This needs to be condemned,” he said. “We need to take a zero-tolerance approach to it right across the healthcare services.
He said poor staffing levels and overcrowding is contributing to the assaults.
“We have to beef up security as one part of the solution. But we also have to address cultural issues in hospitals as well, and the overcrowding undoubtedly is playing a part.”
Health and safety
The Health and Safety Authority recently announced the introduction of a Health and Social Care Advisory Committee in light of the “often dangerous conditions” that nurses and midwives work in.
“It is not acceptable that over ten nurses and midwives are physically, verbally or sexually assaulted every single day all while working in overcrowded and understaffed wards,” INMO said in a statement.
“Ensuring a safer workplace will go a long way to improving the retention levels in the health service.”