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Attacks on health workers are rising in Ireland; half of those attacked were nurses

DUBLIN: Physical attacks and sexual assaults on health workers are reported to be on the rise in Ireland. Half of all victims of assault are nurses. According to Freedom of Information figures, there were 8,700 attacks on health workers in Ireland last year.

In 2020, there were 8,667 reported attacks on HSE officials. 6,900 people were subjected to direct physical attacks. 1,707 were verbally abused and 60 were sexually assaulted. Of the attacks, 4,166 (48%) were nurses. The highest number of attacks took place in the Donegal / Sligo / Leitrim / Cavan / Monaghan areas, with 1,028 last year.

David Hughes, Deputy General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), said it is an ongoing and serious problem. “We are very concerned but it is not a new concern because unfortunately aggression and violence against nurses is a national and international problem in recent years in the health service,” he said.

“What is most surprising about these figures each year as they come on is that the general nurse tends to be more in line for these type of assaults” said Mr. Hughes. He added that some of the attacks were very serious. “There are nurses who lose time because of assaults who have to go and get their injuries looked after. Knives have been used in some cases, I think even a gun was pulled at one stage in an area where nurses and other care staff were,” he said.

HSE said that ensuring the safety of employees and users is a top priority. Authorities have said that they are also providing training to deal with the attacks.

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