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Six physical attacks on Belfast Health Trust staff every day

There are six physical assaults on staff working for the Belfast Health Trust every day

THERE are six physical attacks recorded every day on Belfast Health and Social Care Trust staff, with more than 5,000 assaults annually on workers across the health service.

The number of assaults on staff have jumped in a three year period, from more than 5,000 in 2013/14 to more than 6,000 last year.

That equates to 16 attacks on healthcare staff every day in Northern Ireland.

Of that amount, more than a third have been directed at Belfast Trust staff.

There have been more than 7,000 physical attacks on employees in Belfast in the three year period, an average of six a day.

In addition, 2,500 cases of verbal abuse have been reported each year against employees in the health service, the majority of which were also recorded in the Belfast Trust.

The latest figures, which cover all five health trusts and the Ambulance Service, were released by Health Minister Michelle O'Neill in response to a written Assembly question from UUP Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson.

The minister said that each trust has a "robust zero tolerance policy" in place with a senior director responsible for ensuring staff safety and support.

"This is underpinned by health and safety legislation, which places a duty on trusts to provide a safe and secure environment for staff and others."

Staff who are on the receiving end of an attack will be given support including being referred to occupational health or independent counselling, and assisted in bringing legal proceedings.

Mrs O'Neill said: "A joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) exists between the PSNI, Public Prosecution Service and the department to ensure there are clear lines of communication and clarity for staff regarding prosecution policies."

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