Nurses welcome move to increase sentences for assault

10+ assaults on nurses every day

Deborah Condon

May 23, 2023

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  • Nurses have welcomed a move by the government to increase sentences for assaults on emergency service workers, including hospital staff, ambulance workers and Gardaí.

    The Minister for Justice, Simon Harris, is seeking Cabinet approval to increase sentences for assaults on these workers from seven to 12 years.

    The news has been welcomed by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) which pointed out that at least 10 nurses “endure some kind of physical, verbal or sexual assault in their workplace every day”.

    However, according to INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, nurses and midwives also need hospital management to use the powers they have to support staff and make complaints to Gardaí.

    “A zero tolerance approach is required and that is not the case at present. Legislative protection by itself is not enough. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) needs to play an enhanced role in tackling assaults of nurses. There must be more inspections and prosecutions of employers who fail to keep staff safe,” she insisted.

    The INMO has called for the establishment of a dedicated division within the HSA to deal directly with the health service.

    “Hospitals are not just places of care, they are workplaces. We need to know what measures are being put in place to protect a largely female work force. The employer’s remit is to provide a safe workplace. Over 10 assaults every day is not acceptable,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.

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