More than 6,000 attacks on health care staff during past five years, Northern Trust reports

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust has reported more than 6,000 attacks on health care staff during the past five years with 50,000 across the sector in Northern Ireland.
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A total of 6,636 attacks on staff in the Northern Trust occurred during this period.

In a recent online post, published as the Department of Health launched a new framework to help tackle violence and aggression towards health and social care workers, the Northern Trust stated that “dealing with violence and aggression in the workplace is not part of the job”.

The statement said: “We understand it can be frustrating when people are facing long waits in our emergency departments but attacks on our staff are never acceptable. Our staff work extremely hard, often in very challenging circumstances, to provide care for everyone who attends our EDs.

Causeway Hospital. Pic supplied by Northern Health and Social Care TrustCauseway Hospital. Pic supplied by Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Causeway Hospital. Pic supplied by Northern Health and Social Care Trust

“Abusive behaviour causes mental and physical harm to staff, often leading to time off work which puts additional pressure on teams and creates more pressure on the system. We’re reminding everyone to be aware of the effects of your behaviour on our staff. Please support our staff and treat them with respect.”

The Northern Trust has been reporting “extreme pressure” at its emergency departments at Antrim and Causeway Hospitals this week. At noon on Friday, there were 175 people in waiting rooms at Antrim Hospital and Causeway Hospital in Coleraine with 69 patients waiting for admission to a hospital bed.

Sixty-nine people were waiting more than 12 hours to be seen; ten, eight to 12 hours; ten, four to eight hours and 86, up to four hours.

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Antrim Hospital. Pic supplied by Northern Health and Social Care TrustAntrim Hospital. Pic supplied by Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Antrim Hospital. Pic supplied by Northern Health and Social Care Trust

The Trust reported 2,415 attendances in emergency departments between December 22 and December 28. Of these, 1,641 were at Antrim Hospital and 774 at Causeway. Overall, 399 patients waited more than 12 hours for treatment, 41 per cent waited less than four hours. There were 626 admissions.

The previous week, the overall number of attendances at casualty was 2,699 in the Northern Trust with 1,781 attendances at Antrim Hospital and 918 at Causeway with 498 patients waiting more than 12 hours. The Trust’s annual health and safety report for the period between April 1 2022 and March 31 2023 shows 1,857 incidents of violence and aggression towards staff.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter