Nurses seek prison terms for attackers

Nursing leaders have called for mandatory prison sentences for people convicted of assaulting frontline hospital staff following a serious assault on a nurse in a busy city hospital.

It emerged last night that the man was attacked by a patient in the emergency department (ED) of Cork’s Mercy University Hospital (MUH) last Friday morning, and suffered a fractured knee cap. He is expected to be out of work for some time.

It is the second serious assault on a nurse at MUH in the last two years.

Hospital management said the nurse was part of a hospital emergency response team, which included porters and security officers, and was injured while restraining “an agitated patient”.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said this kind of assault is a constant risk faced by nurses and other hospital staff across the country.

“The kind of behaviour that would not be tolerated on a public street on a Saturday night is becoming the norm in emergency departments,” said the INMO’s spokesman in Cork, Michael Dineen.

“Not alone are they working in a difficult environment, but they are facing the daily reality of being assaulted, or of being subjected to verbal abuse.

The hospital spokesman said MUH’s security arrangements, which include staff and static security systems and alarms, are under constant review, and were recently commended following a HSE national review of ED security measures.

Meanwhile, the hospital appealed yesterday for non emergency cases to avoid the ED following a surge in patient presentations.

“The hospital has implemented its escalation policy to deal with the exceptionally high number of attendees at the ED and while the ED remains open 24/7 it is regrettable that some patients will experience long delays,” the spokesman said.


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