Paediatric nurse faced stab threats amid emergency department overcrowding

"I have been threatened that when I leave work that evening, I will be stabbed as I get into my car”

Paediatric nurse Sylvia Chambers attended a Joint Health Committee meeting in Leinster House to discuss the welfare and safety of workers and patients in the public health service. Photo: gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Hospital Ward

Eilish O ReganIndependent.ie

A Dublin children’s hospital nurse has revealed she received threats that she would be stabbed while leaving work and getting in to her car.

Sylvia Chambers, an emergency department nurse, said she has “never experienced aggression like we have in the past few years, particularly on a daily basis.”

“There are a numerous of incidents where we are verbally attacked, I have been spat at,” she said.

“I have been verbally abused.

“I don't feel safe. My colleagues don't feel safe. Staff are leaving in bulk because of assault.”

"I have been threatened that when I leave work that evening, I will be stabbed as I get into my car.

"I have had grown men six foot four towering over me throwing objects at me. It is a daily occurrence and I do not feel safe going to work, “ she told the Oireachtas health committee.

She said she neither her, nor her colleagues, feel safe.

“This all comes down to security. This comes down to overcrowding. The facility that our parents are asked to wait it is not sufficient.

"At night-time from 2am onwards we only have two doctors. Sometimes we could have up to 60 to 70 patients waiting at that time. It's not feasible for two doctors to see all both patients and parents become very aggressive.

“They become tired and the nurse who is normally the first person that they see we're the ones that we receive the backlash. “

Ms Chambers is a member of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), one of a number of unions before the committee.

More than 10 nurses a day are assaulted.

Dr Clive Kilgallen, president of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said delays in admission in admission from the emergency department (ED) are associated with increased mortality within thirty days and poorer outcomes for patients; it is estimated that up to 400 people could die every year as a result of ED overcrowding.

Studies have shown ED overcrowding is associated with delays to receiving pain relief, medication errors and greater hospital lengths of stay.

He said: “Staff and patients are placed at additional unnecessary risk because of our capacity crisis.

"This has led to widespread burnout according to findings from a recent survey conducted by the IMO.”

These include 94pc of doctors reporting having experienced some form of depression, anxiety, exhaustion, stress, emotional stress or other mental health condition relating to or made worse by work – 81pc of doctors are at risk of burnout.

A range of issues were also raised by the SIPTU and FORSA trade unions.

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