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Assaults on HSE staff now costing €1.1m

Serious assaults against health staff have been increasing amid growing concern for the safety of health workers.

Physical attacks against nurses, doctors, ambulance crew and other employees have resulted in rising numbers seeking access to a victim's scheme operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Last year, 88 HSE employees availed of the Serious Physical Assault Scheme after being attacked by patients or clients. The scheme covers employees who are absent from work as a result of being assaulted at work. The total cost of the HSE scheme was €1.1m.

It showed an increase on the previous year, when 77 health workers accessed the scheme at a cost of €911,000.

There were 16 serious physical assaults in the HSE's Dublin North East region and 14 in Dublin Mid Leinster last year.

One case referred to by the Medical Independent was a "serious physical assault" on a staff member of South Tipperary General Hospital, allegedly by a patient who was "detoxing" in a corridor of the emergency department.

Des Kavanagh, general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association of Ireland, told the Herald there were a number of serious physical assaults against female nurses last year. In cases in Roscommon and Waterford, nurses were "very badly injured and traumatised", he said.


"If anything, the current figures appear to be understating the situation," said Mr Kavanagh.

There have been significant numbers of patients in the mental health and intellectual disability sectors who have assaulted staff, not to mention assaults in accident and emergency departments and against ambulance staff, he said.