Nurses call for security audit in State’s hospitals after fatal assault on patient (89)

Matthew Healy (89) died after being attacked by another patient in Mercy University Hospital, Cork

Nurses have called for a security audit to be carried out in the State’s hospitals following an incident at the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) in Cork in which a patient was fatally assaulted and a nurse was injured while trying to intervene.

Matthew Healy (89), a retired farmer, died after being attacked with a walking aid by another patient, aged in his 30s, on a general ward in the hospital on Sunday morning. A male nurse suffered a broken finger when he tried to stop the attack.

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the union’s “thoughts and sympathies” were with the families at the centre of the awful and tragic incident.

“We have been offering our union’s full support to members in MUH and will continue to do so,” she said. “In light of this awful incident, we are again repeating our call for a full review and audit of security systems and protocols in Irish hospitals. We haven’t had a security audit of our hospitals since 2016, it is time now for the HSE to complete a full audit of what measures are in place in each hospital.”


A spokesman for the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) told The Irish Times that the health regulator would not be carrying out an investigation into the incident as it is the subject of a criminal investigation, but that it would be liaising with hospital management on the matter.

The Irish Times contacted MUH with a series of questions about the incident but a spokesman said that since the matter is the subject of criminal and internal investigations, the hospital would be making no further comment beyond what it said in a statement issued on Sunday.

In that statement, MUH confirmed there had been a fatal incident at the hospital involving a man in his 80s and the hospital was assisting gardaí. It also said counselling was being provided to patients and staff affected by the incident.

“Management and staff at Mercy University Hospital, Cork are saddened and shocked at the tragic and unexpected death of an elderly patient in an incident at the hospital today and express their deepest condolences to the family, relatives and friends. May he rest in peace,” said the MUH.

Detectives are continuing to question a 32-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene of the attack on Sunday by members of the Garda armed support unit.

The man, who was a patient in the same unit as Mr Healy on a general medical ward, was brought to Bridewell Garda station where he was detained under the provisions of section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows gardaí to detain suspects for up to 24 hours before they are charged or released.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times