Action urgently needed on hospital staff assaults

Tallaght Hospital

Senator Lynn Boylan has raised the issue of assaults on hospital staff, including Tallaght Hospital, in the Seanad. Speaking ahead of a debate on issues affecting the welfare of workers in the health service, Ms. Boylan said “In recent weeks, Tallaght University Hospital was extremely busy due to the high number of patients who presented at its emergency department. The pressure was such that hospital management had to issue a statement asking people with non-urgent conditions to visit either their local pharmacist, GP, GP out-of-hours service or a local injury unit. Tallaght is not the exception in this regard, it is happening in hospitals right across the State.

“We need to look at where the failings are in the health service. One of the accepted failings is the shortage of staff, which is one of the main issues in our hospitals. Last year, 442 Irish doctors applied for Australian work visas, with up to 1,800 nurses making similar applications. The question is why staff who are trained here and are very well-qualified are choosing to leave the health service.

“My colleague, Deputy Seán Crowe, recently chaired a meeting of the Oireachtas Health committee on the topic of the welfare and safety of workers and patients in the public health service, to which he invited a cross-section of staff representatives. Those speaking pointed to the latest statistics from the HSE which show that between January 2021 and October 2022, there were 5,593 assaults against nursing and midwifery staff in our hospitals. Moreover, they noted that assaults are considered to be under reported.”

Senator Boylan continued “One nurse who gave evidence to the committee, Ms Sylvia Chambers, said that in her 18 years in nursing, she has never experienced the aggression to which she has been subjected in the past few years. She also indicated that during exit interviews, nurses are saying that they are leaving the health service because they are stressed and afraid in work and cannot provide the appropriate care.

“The violence and abuse, including racial abuse, to which staff are subjected is not being adequately addressed. There is also disappointment at the reaction from the Health and Safety Authority which has been extensively lobbied and engaged with on a number of occasions by staff representatives seeking a greater role for the organisation in the inspection of facilities and support for health service employees seeking prosecutions when they have been assaulted.” “It is time to address this as a matter of urgency. We cannot allow our hospital staff to be assaulted in the increasing numbers they are.”

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Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at



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