11 Jun 2011

Hospital staff assaulted, abused

8:45 am on 11 June 2011

A study has found that frontline staff at Wellington Hospital's emergency department are often verbally and physically abused by intoxicated patients.

Research by the University of Otago has found 50% of staff have experienced some form of abuse, and this is believed to be commonplace around the country.

The study, which looked at a range of frontline staff at the capital's emergency department, found a high level of assaults by intoxicated patients, with a detrimental effect on others experiencing intimidation and having to wait longer for treatment.

Senior researcher Fiona Imlach Gunasekara says the study also found the problem of intoxicated patients intensifies during big events such as rugby matches.

She says there should be concern about the impact of the Rugby World Cup on emergency departments.

A doctor from Wellington's emergency department, Paul Quigley, says sober-up tents in the city centre will help prevent people ending up in hospital during the Rugby World Cup.

While more preparation needs to be done, he says, the hospital has good support from Wellington Free Ambulance and has had experience of dealing with people during rugby sevens tournaments.