Comment: ‘There are no winners in this situation’

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The case of George Simpson, who has been banned from visiting his elderly mother in hospital, is terribly sad for all concerned.

It must be very upsetting for Mr Simpson, who is clearly very worried about his mother’s welfare. His 85-year-old mother, Morag, will surely miss his regular visits.

And the unfortunate Ferryfield House nurses who have found themselves stuck in the middle of this escalating dispute over his mother’s care must dread going into work.

In short, there are no winners in this extremely regretful situation. The health board, however, has to be praised for taking firm action.

The intimidation and violence faced by health service staff is a serious and growing problem.

It is shocking that nurses, doctors and their colleagues within NHS Lothian report a case of violence or intimidation against them every five hours. The number of incidents has grown sevenfold in just four years.

There is a lack of respect among many in our society for authority and for those who work for the public good. All too often that lack of respect leads to the kind of abuse that nurses and doctors have to put up with on a daily basis.

It is completely unacceptable situation and it is the duty of health service managers to do all they can to stamp it out.

Everyone has a right to expect to be treated with courtesy and respect at work. And that goes double for hard-working NHS staff, the very people who we all rely on in our hour of need.

Hospital managers have no option but to protect their staff when nurses feel they cannot do their job properly because they feel intimidated.

This particular case is perhaps not beyond hope.

Mr Simpson clearly cares passionately about his mother and the care which she receives. Everyone can sympathise with that. And there is no suggestion that he has ever used physical violence against hospital staff.

It has to be hoped that this ban will give him pause for thought which will allow him to find a way of repairing his broken relationship with his mother’s carers.

After his two-week ban is over, it may be that his visits can resume with a renewed understanding of the pressure which nurses are under. An independent chaperone as suggested by Margaret Watt of the Patients Association might help.

Whatever happens, the health board must continue to insist on respect being shown to its staff at all times.