'Police often disregard attacks on medical staffers'

Many doctors, nurses afraid to complain of abuse, avoid doing so because they think nothing will come of it, ministry chief says.

Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv 311 (R) (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv 311 (R)
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
There were more than 2,500 incidents of physical and verbal violence in hospitals this year, but fewer than half of the victims complained, according to Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Ronni Gamzu.
Gamzu – who was speaking at a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee on Monday – said that many doctors and nurses are afraid to complain against attackers, or avoid doing so because they think nothing will come of it.
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Committee chairman MK Ronnie Bar- On called on the police to regard such attacks seriously, as if they were against policemen. He called on the authorities not to close files on such complaints due to “lack of public interest.” He noted that the public does not have more interest in defending workers that provide service – such as social workers and local authorities – than of medical staffers.
Gamzu said there is a direct connection between the lack of medical infrastructures such as inadequate manpower, overcrowding and lack of equipment and violence.
“Every incident in a health fund clinic or a hospital is reported [to us]. But not all of those who were harmed file a police complaint. Most of the attacks are verbal, but there is no decline in attacks in recent years.”
Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, a gynecologist by training, said that from her experience as former deputy director-general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, posting a policeman at the entrance deters violence better than anything else, but the state must pay for it. In any case, she added, improved security is not enough; more strict legislation is needed.
The Health Ministry will soon pay for policemen to be on guard at those hospitals that have the biggest threat of violence, ministry security coordinator Reuven Keren promised.