Special Courts For 999 Thugs

Violent and drunken patients who attack healthcare workers trying to help them are to receive swift justice in a special new court in Swansea. Official figures out today show there were 73 physical and serious verbal attacks on local staff in the last year. Workers at Morriston, Singleton and Cefn Coed hospitals alone have been subjected to 46 incidents since January. They are left battered and bruised just trying to do their job.

Campaigners say they are determined to stamp out the abusive behaviour towards workers in the front line. The new court was launched today as part of a city-wide initiative called Here to Help, Not to Target.

It will sit every Wednesday to deal specifically with people who attack doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health workers.

Victims and witnesses will have access to a witness care unit. Organisers say offenders can expect a zero-tolerance approach. The initiative is being run by Swansea NHS Trust, the police, magistrates, Crown Prosecution Service and Safer Swansea Partnership.

Head of accident and emergency services for Swansea NHS Trust, Michael McCabe, said it was crucial that staff were protected.

“Verbal or violent attacks on staff have a negative impact on morale and an individual’s confidence,” he said.

“It is reassuring for the health service to know that our partners are taking violence against our staff seriously, and I sincerely hope we will see a reduction in violence throughout Swansea’s health service.”

Speaking at the launch of the campaign in Morriston Hospital, Acting Inspector Huw Williams, of the criminal justice unit said police took attacks on healthcare workers very seriously.

He added: “This new court is part of zero tolerance towards attacks on healthcare workers.

“The initiative is all about tackling the small minority who abuse the people who are there to help them.”

Swansea East MP Sian James said she hoped the campaign would remind people about their responsibilities towards health professionals.

She said: “Medical workers in the front line often deal with people in very stressful situations and they deserve our full protection.They are doing something for others in the community and people should treat them with dignity and respect.”