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Morgan: Protecting public sector staff in Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I welcome this debate, and I echo Sandy Mewies's view that this is about supporting front-line staff.

That is a stark recognition of where we are in terms of the National Health Service, because we know that the number of incidents of violence against members of medical teams has increased.

In the past year, roughly 290 attacks were carried out against ambulance staff, 134 of which resulted in injury. Often, ambulance staff face difficult circumstances because they have to deal with a variety of dangerous situations, which is somewhat different to the experiences of other front-line medical staff.

This is a matter of effective law enforcement. This is vital; it is not happening at the moment and it should be top of the list. If other Assembly Members do not think that it should be at the top of the list, perhaps they can say how far down the list they think it ought to be. We should not give the impression that we will be soft on those people who commit these horrendous offences against members of medical staff.

The number of attacks in Wales has increased to just short of 5,000, although, admittedly, these include a whole range of attacks that could be committed. The fact that the Minister for Health and Social Services says that the issue is as much about prevention as it is about trying to prosecute people, once offences have been committed, demonstrates a lack of understanding.

In many circumstances, there will be people for whom violence is commonplace, whether it involves mouthing off at a member of medical staff or being drunk or high on drugs.

You cannot do much to prevent those people from committing acts of violence, but we must ensure that NHS trusts prosecute them, that such people feel the full weight of the law, and that such incidents are not just dismissed because these people are drunk or high on drugs.

I welcome anything that we can do to ensure that NHS trusts protect members of staff who work in our hospitals, but we need to examine the level of security arrangements that exist within hospitals in Wales. That is essential if we are to promote a zero-tolerance attitude.

People in the medical profession face a range of abuse and attacks. Ambulance staff are perhaps put in the most dangerous situations, and they are ill-equipped to deal with the situations that they face.

I wish to make a suggestion to the Minister for Health and Social Services, which he may not like, which is that I think that ambulance staff should be equipped with CS gas.

That may sound rather extreme, but if you consider the variety of circumstances in which NHS ambulance staff are expected to operate, such as looking after people who have been injured in some post-football-match riot, they need effective measures to ensure that they are not attacked.

That may be a measure that the Assembly Government could consider, but, by and large, we have a long way to go with this issue, because NHS staff are still very much under threat in hospitals.

When they are there to deliver front-line care, the training for which has been provided for many years, and have demonstrated the extent of their commitment, it is our duty to ensure that they are protected to the ultimate level of the law in terms of prosecuting those people who offend, and to ensure that we support the victims via the various means at our disposal."

"Yr wyf yn croesawu'r ddadl hon, ac yr wyf yn ategu barn Sandy Mewies ei bod yn ymwneud â chefnogi staff rheng flaen. Mae hynny'n gydnabyddiaeth blaen o'n hunion amgylchiadau o ran y gwasanaeth iechyd gwladol, oherwydd gwyddom fod nifer yr achosion o drais yn erbyn aelodau timau meddygol wedi cynyddu.

Yn ystod y flwyddyn ddiwethaf, bu oddeutu 290 o ymosodiadau yn erbyn staff ambiwlans, gyda 134 ohonynt wedi achosi anafiadau. Mae staff ambiwlans yn wynebu amgylchiadau anodd yn aml oherwydd bod rhaid iddynt ddelio â phob math o sefyllfaoedd peryglus, sydd ychydig yn wahanol i brofiadau staff meddygol rheng flaen eraill.

Mae hyn yn fater o orfodi'r gyfraith yn effeithiol. Mae hyn yn hanfodol; nid yw hynny'n digwydd ar hyn o bryd a dylai fod ar frig y rhestr.

Os nad yw Aelodau eraill o'r Cynulliad yn credu y dylai fod ar frig y rhestr, efallai y gallant ddweud pa mor isel y dylai fod ar y rhestr. Ni ddylem roi'r argraff y byddwn yn drugarog tuag at y bobl hynny sy'n cyflawni'r troseddau dychrynllyd hyn yn erbyn aelodau o staff meddygol.

Mae nifer yr ymosodiadau yng Nghymru wedi cynyddu i bron i 5,000 o achosion, er, rhaid cyfaddef, bod y rhain yn cynnwys yr amrediad cyfan o ymosodiadau y gellid eu cyflawni.

Mae'r ffaith fod y Gweinidog dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol yn dweud bod y mater hwn yn ymwneud lawn cymaint ag atal ag ydyw â cheisio erlyn pobl, ar ôl i droseddau gael eu cyflawni, yn dangos diffyg dealltwriaeth. Mewn nifer o amgylchiadau, ceir pobl sydd wedi hen arfer â thrais, boed hynny'n golygu sarhau aelod o staff meddygol neu fod yn feddw neu o dan ddylanwad cyffuriau.

Ni allwch wneud llawer i rwystro'r bobl hyn rhag cyflawni gweithredoedd treisgar, ond rhaid inni sicrhau bod ymddiriedolaethau'r GIG yn eu herlyn, a bod pobl o'r fath yn teimlo holl bwysau'r gyfraith ar eu cefn, ac nad yw digwyddiadau o'r fath yn cael eu diystyru oherwydd bod pobl yn feddw neu o dan ddylanwad cyffuriau.

Yr wyf yn croesawu unrhyw beth y gallwn ei wneud i sicrhau bod ymddiriedolaethau'r GIG yn amddiffyn aelodau staff sy'n gweithio yn ein hysbytai, ond rhaid inni edrych ar lefel y trefniadau diogelwch sy'n bodoli mewn ysbytai yng Nghymru. Yr hyn sy'n hanfodol yw ein bod yn mabwysiadu agwedd o beidio â dangos unrhyw oddefgarwch.

Mae pobl yn y proffesiwn meddygol yn wynebu pob math o gamdriniaeth ac ymosodiadau. Staff ambiwlans o bosibl sydd yn y sefyllfaoedd mwyaf peryglus, ac nid ydynt mewn sefyllfa i ddelio â'r hyn y mae'n rhaid iddynt eu hwynebu.

Hoffwn gynnig awgrym i'r Gweinidog dros Iechyd a Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol, un na fydd o bosibl yn ei hoffi, sef fy mod yn credu y dylai staff ambiwlans gael defnydd o nwy CS.

Efallai bod hynny'n swnio braidd yn eithafol, ond pan edrychwch ar yr amrywiaeth o amgylchiadau y mae disgwyl i staff ambiwlans weithio ynddynt, megis edrych ar ôl pobl sydd wedi cael eu hanafu mewn terfysg ar ôl gêm bêl droed, mae angen mesurau effeithiol arnynt i sicrhau nad oes neb yn ymosod arnynt.

Gall hwn fod yn fesur y gallai Llywodraeth y Cynulliad ei ystyried, ond, at ei gilydd, mae gennym lawer i'w wneud eto ar y mater hwn, gan fod staff y GIG yn parhau i fod o dan fygythiad mewn ysbytai.

Gan eu bod yno i ddarparu gofal rheng flaen, rhywbeth y maent wedi derbyn blynyddoedd o hyfforddiant i'w wneud, a'u bod wedi dangos lefel eu hymroddiad, mae dyletswydd arnom i sicrhau eu bod yn cael eu hamddiffyn hyd eithaf y gyfraith o ran erlyn y sawl sy'n troseddu, ac i sicrhau ein bod yn cefnogi'r dioddefwyr trwy gyfrwng y gwahanol ddulliau sydd ar gael inni."

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