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Editor's Viewpoint

Attacks on health staff a shame on society



Body cameras are to be used in two hospitals as part of a trial

Body cameras are to be used in two hospitals as part of a trial

Body cameras are to be used in two hospitals as part of a trial

Is it really the depths into which society in Northern Ireland has sunk, that we must equip security staff at our hospitals with body cameras to reduce violence and aggression against staff?

Through the early days of the Covid pandemic we took to the streets in our thousands to applaud their efforts to keep us safe, standing in the front line while the rest of us stayed at home.

But even before that the number of attacks on hospital staff, ambulance crews and our fire service personnel was on the rise.

These are people who have chosen to do jobs that protect us when we’re in danger and look after us when we are ill.

There are countless families around the country who are so grateful for their efforts in saving the life of a loved one, yet there are still some in society who see them as an easy target, show no shame in abusing them and making their jobs so much more difficult than it already is.

The camera will begin a trial at Craigavon Area Hospital and Daisy Hill in Newry.

It’s not hard to understand why it was seen as necessary. From October 2021 until March 2022 — just a six month spell — security teams had to respond to 438 incidents across the two hospital sites.

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That’s 438 times in just two of our hospitals where staff were dealing with disturbances when they should have been tending to patients — and at a time when the NHS needs to be attracting more staff to the medical professions.

Last month it was announced that some Northern Ireland Ambulance Service staff in east Belfast would trial body-worn cameras after a rise in assaults on them.

There were more than 600 attacks on crews in 2020-21.

It’s a shame on society that money has to be thrown at protecting staff who are there to protect us when that money could be much better spent in improving a health service that is suffering. 

But every employee has a right to feel safe in their job.

And perhaps if the cameras are used to prosecute those who are intent on causing a disturbance, threatening members of the health profession and putting the health and wellbeing of other patients in jeopardy it will finally start to make some inroads on the alarming figures.

If people cannot be trusted to act in a safe and responsible manner, then greater vigilance is the logical deterrent.

Only those who have something to fear from it will complain and if we want to go back to a society free from surveillance, then collectively we have to have more respect for each other.

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