4 Oct 2013

Mental health unit assaults climbing

1:20 pm on 4 October 2013

Assaults on staff and patients at mental health units throughout the country are rising, with doctors and nurses calling for urgent action.

Official information released by the country's 20 district health boards shows there were more than 200 more assaults in 2012 than in the previous year.

Only a handful of mental health units have recorded an overall drop in attacks.

Resident Doctors Association national secretary Deborah Powell says the figures show an alarming trend.

She says in some cases poor treatment facilities and an inability to recruit or retain staff are creating a vicious circle.

Nurses Organisation chief executive Memo Musa says nurses have experienced more attacks, as well as assaults on patients by other patients, and they want action.

The Public Service Association, which also represents nurses, says it is important not to stigmatise mental health patients, but with a rise in assaults, staff are suffering and concerned for their safety.