Belfast Telegraph

Woman stabbed 20 times in a frenzied attack at a health centre... 18 months on and security there still hasn’t been increased

By Lisa Smyth

Security at a Belfast health centre has not been increased over 18 months after a woman using the facility was stabbed at least 20 times in a frenzied attack.

Health bosses have been accused of putting staff who work at Grove Wellbeing Centre in north Belfast — and other similar facilities across the city — at risk by failing to implement basic health and safety measures.

It comes just days after police were called to the centre on the York Road to deal with a fight that broke out between two men.

A series of inspections have been carried out at the centre looking at how best to improve the safety of staff and the public there since Mary McReynolds was stabbed in August 2011.

A report of a risk assessment carried out by the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust on October 17, 2011, stated there was a possibility of “violence and aggression”.

According to the document, “staff morale is low... due to a perceived lack of security”. It made a series of recommendations to |reduce the risk to staff and users of the centre, including:

  • Raising the height of the reception desk where it is lower for wheelchair users by attaching |protective glass with a gap at the |bottom to allow paperwork to be passed underneath;
  • Making alterations to a room behind the reception desk to provide a secure area;
  • Installation of a panic button;
  • Providing staff training on management of aggression and personal safety;
  • Issuing staff with personal safety alarms.

In addition to the assessment carried out by the trust, a crime prevention officer from the PSNI also made a series of recommendations following an inspection of the building in last August.

These included the installation of a physical barrier at the reception counter, as well as fitting panic buttons behind the counter.

A spokesman from public service union Nipsa said: “We would say that it is not a matter of if something happens but when someone — either a member of the public... or staff — is hurt.

“At the moment, we do not believe our staff are getting the level of protection they require or deserve and we are disappointed that nothing has been done to address this despite there being very clear recommendations that certain measures would make the centre a safer place to work.”

A trust spokeswoman said they are looking at security options for reception areas in wellbeing and treatment areas, including the Grove Wellbeing Centre.

Background

Grove Wellbeing Centre is a one-stop shop for leisure, health and library facilities. Services include a dedicated health centre, library, leisure complex, cafe and wellbeing park. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and facilities for older people are also available.

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