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I often grumble about the lack of respect some members of the general public have for our cleaners - and I don't just mean about not acknowledging them as they go about their work, or perhaps getting in their way and forcing them to stop and wait for us rather than allowing them a few seconds so they can finish the bit they're cleaning! I mean the way so many seem to think it's ok to leave rubbish around rather than binning it, and leave taps running in washrooms or toilet cubicles strewn with wet toilet tissue and not bothering to flush or even check that the seat is clean and dry before leaving. Cleaners are there to help make our lives better, aren't they? Don't they deserve better treatment?
Likewise, healthcare professionals. I often read about ambulance crews being attacked and their vehicles raided while they're attending patients; but it's not only those that are isolated who are in danger. The incidences of staff being assaulted inside our hospitals are rising too. Statistics say that 200 nurses report an assault every day in England alone.
I'd thought it was at UK thing with a general lack of discipline and the ability of offenders to hoodwink the Courts into letting them off with the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. I'd rather the louts be punished severely enough that they'll think twice before repeating the offence.
But it's not just the UK. World Health Organisation figures show that globally, those working in healthcare facilities are at risk. Between 8% and 38% suffer physical violence at some point in their careers and of course cleaners are at the receiving end not only physically, but also through having to clean up after an attack. It's just not good enough, is it?
After a series of serious incidents in hospitals in New South Wales, Australia, the Health Services Union is stepping up its 'Are you safe in your hospital' campaign. It's backing up its call for extra security staff and greater powers to deal with problem patients, with a four-hour strike today which will involve some 22,000 staff including paramedics, administrators, cleaners and security staff. I hope the Australian government and others around the world find a solution to the growing problem of assaults on staff. Working in healthcare - whether as a nursing professional or a cleaner - is hard enough as it is, without the worry (or reality) of being assaulted or verbally abused by those they're trying to help.
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1st August 2019