A nurses union has claimed that staff who were attacked at Our Lady’s hospital in Navan were failed by the HSE and revealed that the HSE had been warned such an attck was likely to happen.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), General Secretary, Peter Hughes made the claim on LMFM radio this morning

A €10,000 fine was handed down to the health service on Wednesday for breaches of workplace health and safety legislation at the local hospital.

They were also ordered to pay out €13,000 in damages over the attack on three psychiatric nurses by a patient in August 2016.

Speaking on The Michael Reade Show on the local station this morning Hughes, said previous warnings of assaults at the hospital fell on deaf ears

He revealed, ‘Four months before these attacks took place a branch official highlighted his concerns that there was an increased incidence rate in assaults, there were also increased incidents of patients with challenging behaviour being admitted to that unit.

‘His concerns were neither acted on or responded to, it was at that stage measures should have been put in place to mitigate the risk to staff.’

The HSE also pleaded guilty to failing to manage and conduct work activities, specifically the operation of the Psychiatric Unit, in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of employees.

The guilty plea related to the fact that there was no emergency response team to respond to the activation by employees of their personal alarms in circumstances where the staff of the Navan Unit were unable on their own to contain violence and aggression from high risk patients.

Also, there was no security guard and there were no magnetic doors operated by a swipe card system that would have allowed segregation and containment of high risk patients. As a consequence of these failures, nurses suffered personal injuries.

The case followed an investigation by the Health and Safety Authority into a “serious incident of violence and aggression” where a number of nurses were assaulted by a patient at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, Co Meath.

The DPP brought forward a number of summonses against the HSE over the incident which occurred at the psychiatric unit on or about 29th August 2016

Nursing staff suffered injuries during the incident at the Department of Psychiatry on 29 August, 2016.

There was no emergency response team to respond to the activation of employee’s personal alarms when they were unable to contain violence and aggression and violence, according to the HSA.

The Authority said there were no swipe card-operated magnetic doors to segregate and contain high-risk patients and there was no security guard.

The HSE pleaded guilty that there was no adequate “assessment, documenting, communicating and management of risks” to the safety, health and welfare of employees in the Navan Unit arising from the known hazard of violence and aggression from high-risk patients.

The HSE also admitted failing to manage and conduct work activities, specifically the operation of the Psychiatric Unit, in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of employees.