Under-pressure Noble’s Hospital’s accident and emergency department at the weekend is comparable to that of any inner city hospital’s.
That was the claim made by a consultant to Middle MHK Howard Quayle, who said it was ‘as bad’ as any hospital in Glasgow.
He repeated the shocking statement to the House of Keys on Tuesday, after Health Minister David Anderson said the department’s statistics showed that over the last 12 months there was only one case of violence against staff as a consequence of a drunk person attending A&E.
Mr Quayle said he had received information that hospital staff ‘continue to feel intimidated and threatened’ by people under the influence of alcohol or drugs attending A&E.
And he said those people should have to pay towards the cost of their treatment.
The Health Minister agreed to revisit the statistics.
They showed from November 2012 to November 2013 there were 16 incidents reported of violence against staff.
He said: ‘Of those 16, 15 related to elderly confused and demented patients behaving outwith their control as a consequence of their underlying medical condition.
‘Only one of the cases was as a consequence of an intoxicated individual attending the accident and emergency department.’
He said Noble’s Hospital endeavours to ensure a safe working environment for staff – and takes a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to violence and aggression against staff.
He told the Keys posters are displayed in clinical areas advising on acceptable behaviour, and staff are trained in ‘de-escalation and break-away techniques’ to avoid harm.
In the event of an incident, staff can request help from the portering and security team.
They are trained in control and restraint techniques to Home Office standards. Where necessary, the police can be called to support staff.
Mr Anderson said: ‘The department, along with the Isle of Man Constabulary will, where it is deemed appropriate, prosecute perpetrators.’
He added: ‘Regrettably, in an environment such as a hospital no system can guarantee to protect staff from assault by people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.’
In response to Mr Quayle’s call to introduce charges for people under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he said: ‘I have raised the issue in the department before.’
He said the cost to administer the system would be higher than the money it generated because of the bureaucracy involved.