Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Man prosecuted for hospital assault on nurse and other staff

Mark Gallagher has been placed under night-time curfew and ordered to pay compensation

A patient who left a nurse feeling ‘shaken and nervous’ after assaulting her has been prosecuted under a new law designed to improve protection of emergency workers.

At a hearing on 8 April, Hull Magistrates Court heard how Mark Gallagher had been taken to the emergency department of Hull Royal Infirmary with a head injury after he fell over while drinking with a relative.

He underwent scans, which were clear, but staff allowed him to stay in a cubicle to ‘sleep it off’ in the early hours of 16 February.

Feeling of helplessness

James Byatt, prosecuting, told the court that while a nurse was treating a patient in a nearby cubicle, Mr Gallagher came in and assaulted her, pushing her by the shoulders and grabbing her wrists.

‘She said it had left her shaken and nervous,’ said Mr Byatt. ‘She felt helpless and it has made her more wary of intoxicated patients in the future.’

Security staff were called to escort Mr Gallagher off the premises but he punched one and kicked another before being arrested by police.

Mr Gallagher admitted three counts of assault against emergency workers. Magistrates imposed a night-time curfew for eight weeks, a 12-month community order, and ordered him to pay each of his victims £150 compensation.

Safe workplace

Lynda Carmichael, chair of the magistrates, told Mr Gallagher: 'It is a very, very serious offence.

‘These are people in their workplace and, as such, deserve not only respect but certainly to be safe in their workplace.’

Mike Farr, defending, said Mr Gallagher, who has no previous convictions, had no recollection of the attack and had been taking medication for depression and anxiety, which he believed had reacted with the alcohol he drank.

‘He is extremely remorseful for his stupidity and his actions,’ Mr Farr said.

Mr Gallagher was prosecuted under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, which came into force towards the end of last year.

Numerous assaults

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust security manager Ron Gregory said more than 70 assaults by members of the public had been reported by trust staff in the past 12 months.

‘Anyone who is violent or abusive to any member of staff at our hospitals should be in no doubt they will face the appropriate punishment for their crime,’ said Mr Gregory.

‘Staff do not come to work to be assaulted, abused, spat at or attacked, and we will not tolerate any such behaviour.’

Partnership with police

The trust has teamed up with Humberside Police in an initiative to prosecute offenders who commit crimes at the trust’s hospitals or attack staff.

Chief inspector Lee Edwards said: ‘If anyone thinks they can get away with assaulting an emergency worker, they are sorely mistaken.’