Hospital security guard on the impact of alcohol...
Sunderland Royal hospital’s security officer has worked at the hospital for 23 years. His work takes him across the hospital, including the busy Emergency Department.
“In my job I get called to all sorts of alcohol-related situations in the hospital. It can be difficult as you just don’t know what you’re walking in to. It could be someone who has had too much and is verbally abusing staff or patients, it could be half a dozen people having an argument or fight.
“I’ve been hit myself - in my job I expect to be abused, threatened and hit by people under the influence of alcohol. It’s not acceptable, but these are the type of situations I encounter and it’s just what I expect as part of the job.
“It can get very heated in the waiting room, especially when groups of drinkers come in with a friend who has had some kind of drink-related accident. I’ve seen a colleague punched in the face when he was caught in a disagreement between two people who were drunk and waiting to be seen. It was awful.
“I’ve seen people vomit and urinate in the waiting room too. All of this is, understandably, very upsetting for other patients who might be seriously ill.
“I’ve been threatened numerous times, including people who know where I live saying they will throw bricks through my window or torch my house. I’ve even had abuse in a takeaway from someone who recognised me from the hospital.
“I’ve been working at the hospital for more than 20 years now and things definitely changed when the drinking hours were extended. We went from having busy periods when the pubs and clubs kicked out to being busy all day every day with people who have had too much to drink.
“Alcohol is a problem for us all year round, 24 hours a day seven days a week, but it does get busier in the run up to Christmas. This ranges from the dependent drinkers who we see often and are familiar with, to groups of young people who have been out in the town, and everyone else in between. It places a huge strain on our resources at an already busy time.
“I’m trained in control and restraint and we try to give everyone who comes in and causes trouble a second chance but often we do need to call the police. It’s a shame because they’re often people who would never behave like that if they hadn’t had too much to drink.
“What makes it difficult is it’s not like a bar where we can throw people out if they’re acting up. As well as being drunk, people might have a genuine medical condition, if say they’ve fallen and hit their head or sprained an ankle, they still need to be seen no matter how they’re behaving.”