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Health staff 'kicked, spat at, hit and scratched'

Attacks against health and social care workers in Northern Ireland have risen sharply during the pandemic, available data suggests.

Workers have reported being bitten, spat at, hit, scratched, kicked, abused on social media and sexually assaulted.

Most of the 5,500 attacks recorded in the six months to March were physical, said a forum representing local health bodies and the Fire and Rescue Service.

It has called on politicians and the public to support their staff.

The abuse affected staff across the sector, and those targeted were often already exhausted and caring for people in difficult conditions, said the chairman of the Health and Social Care Chairs' Forum, Peter McNaney.

"This is beyond intolerable," he added.

GPs, pharmacy, dental and ophthalmology staff had all been affected, and some had resigned as a result, said Eileen Mullan, chairwoman of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

"Even just in the last few days, with the uptake of the vaccinations across our centres, we've seen a significant increase in the amount of verbal abuse at those centres when people are waiting," she said.

"Some are abusing our staff while they are there."

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Source: BBC News, 15 December 2021


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