Gardaí to patrol Limerick hospital wards

GARDAÍ are to patrol the corridors of Limerick Hospital following an increase in violent attacks on staff.

The Health Service Employers Agency (HSEA) may extend the radical measure to other hospitals as part of review of security.

An interim report on tackling growing levels of violence will be discussed at the Labour Relations Commission on Friday, where the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) will outline its concerns.

Nurses at Accident and Emergency wards walked out in protest in April following a spate of attacks. The situation is particularly bad in Limerick.

Last year, there were 64 violent or aggressive attacks on staff in the city’s hospital. As a result of violent incidents at the hospital alone, 27 people have been convicted for offences ranging from possession of a knife to criminal damage and other public order offences.

Garda Inspector Gerry McNamara said the appointment of a full-time Garda at the hospital is part of a overall security package which includes a CCTV system and closer liaisons between the hospital managers and gardaí.

A similar Garda liaison officer has also been appointed at Tallaght Hospital, although the INO’s Tallaght industrial relations officer, Kevin

O’Connor, said there were no current plans for actual Garda patrols since recent security changes had improved the situation there.

INO deputy general secretary, Dave Hughes, welcomed the introduction of garda patrols in Limerick, but said any extension of the gardaí’s involvement in hospital security should not be an excuse for hospital management to skimp on internal security.

“We welcome Garda patrols because violence for staff is a growing problem. But we would like to see the full range of proposals in the security review.

“The solution to hospital security is not just to hand over responsibility to the gardaí.

“Hospitals need to be on top of their internal problems as well,” Mr Hughes said.

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