Hospital Staff Punched And Head-Butted

Health chiefs have condemned as “abhorrent” attacks on Altnagelvin Hospital staff after doctors and nurses were punched, head-butted and hit with a walking stick by a patient at the weekend.

Elaine Way, chief executive of the Western Health Trust spoke out after three members of staff were assaulted in the Acute Medical ward on Saturday night.

Police arrested one man in connection with the assaults, but later released him on bail pending further inquiries.

Ms Way today confirmed that doctors and nurses have been left ” completely traumatised” after being hit by the man, who was admitted to the hospital on Friday night.

She also confirmed that a walking stick was used in the attacks and that staff had been growing concerned that the man might “go off” because he was extremely agitated.

Porters at the hospital managed to restrain the man before the police were called.

The incident is just the latest in a spate of attacks on staff at the hospital.

Most of these have been concentrated in the Accident and Emergency Ward.

Ms Way said staff were now being trained to deal with such incidents.

“We have highly skilled, very able staff and regrettably they are becoming increasingly used to these sort of attacks,” she said.

“We offer training to front-line staff to deal with assaults, which on occasion can get out of hand, and that is what happened at the weekend.

“This attack on our staff is absolutely reprehensible. I want to condemn it and reassure people that it will be investigated fully.

“All our staff are there to deal with people who are ill and there must have been other patients around and they are bound to have been upset by this,” she added.

“The Trust has a policy of zero tolerance with measures in place to ensure prosecutions can take place.”

Ms Way said the only time staff would not seek prosecutions for attacks was if a patient was mentally ill.

“If an incident is just wilful violence we will pursue it through the courts,” Ms Way said.

Foyle MLA Mary Bradley said today that efforts should be redoubled to prevent further attacks on staff.

Mrs Bradley said: “These types of appalling assaults have occurred quite a number of times at the hospital and it has come to the stage now were whatever measures are needed to ensure all patients respect staff must be taken.”

A PSNI spokeswoman today confirmed: “Police have arrested a man following an assault on members of staff at Altnagelvin Hospital. He has been bailed pending further inquiries.”

A series of measures have been introduced at Altnagelvin Hospital over recent years in a bid to eradicate attacks on staff .

This has included security porters and security cameras operating 24 hours a day.

Patrols also scour the grounds of the hospital.

Direct access to the police dispatch control has also been introduced.