Rampage Shuts Down Hospital in Ireland

The high threat of violence faced constantly by Northern Ireland's emergency services was brutally highlighted at the weekend when medical staff came under attack.

Four nurses had to be treated for shock when a patient went on the rampage in the accident and emergency department of the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald. Security staff were unable to help as they were dealing with another abusive patient.

In Dundonald, ambulances coming to the Ulster Hospital had to be diverted to hospitals in Belfast for almost six hours when the nurses were showered with glass when a patient smashed a window.

The drama unfolded when the man was brought to the hospital by ambulance at 1.30am yesterday.

It is understood he was verbally abusive to staff and tried to smash his way through protective glass shielding clerical staff in reception. He is believed to have later broken a different window while being treated.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that officers attended the hospital and arrested a 39-year-old man on suspicion of criminal damage and assault. The patient was later taken to the Belfast City Hospital for treatment.

A spokesman for the Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust condemned the incident.

"Because of the behaviour of this individual, ambulances had to be diverted from the Ulster Hospital from around 2.30am until 8am," he said.

"Normal security staffing levels were in place in the accident and emergency department. At the time they had to be diverted to deal with another patient who had been abusive to staff."

Meanwhile, a Coleraine councillor has raised concerns about security at the Causeway Hospital after a nurse was attacked and injured in the accident and emergency department.

Councillor Billy Leonard said greater security measures were needed after stones and a mobile sign were thrown at a nurse recently, injuring her foot.