Sunday 19 November 2017

Attacks on mental health staff rise by 1,200pc

Fianna Fáil TD James Browne. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil TD James Browne. Photo: Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Physical attacks on mental health staff have risen by an extraordinary 1,200pc in just two years.

A disturbing 149 incidents have been recorded this year alone, compared to just 11 assaults in 2015 and three in 2014.

The figures, obtained by Fianna Fáil's mental health spokesperson James Browne, paint a worrying picture of the risks facing staff in mental health facilities.

Mr Browne, a TD for Wexford, last night said the massive spike in incidents required an urgent investigation to be initiated by Health Minister Simon Harris.

"This is a cause for serious concern and shows that additional measures are needed to protect staff working in our mental health services," he told the Irish Independent.

According to the figures, there were just three incidents in 2010. The numbers varied slightly up until 2016 when there was 145 incidents reported. The figures peaked this year at 149 - a 1,255pc hike in just two years.

The HSE said it placed staff safety among its top priorities and that the issue would be examined again in 2018.

But Mr Browne said it was clear "special measures" were required to defend staff against risks in the workplace.

"Often the patients mean no harm and are not in control of their own actions when these assaults are carried out. Staff members in our mental health services clearly face increased risks as compared to their colleagues across other areas of the HSE.

"Accordingly, special measures are needed to ensure they can carry out their work in a safe manner," he said.

Irish Independent

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