Judge calls for violent patients to be thrown out of hospital after 'gross' man flicks blood at staff

THE “gross” behaviour of a drunken man who flicked blood at medical staff prompted a judge to call for violent and abusive patients to be thrown out of hospital.

District Judge Anthony Callaway’s comments came as it was revealed that violent assaults against NHS staff had risen by more than 20 per cent over the past five years.

Judge Callaway made his views known during a case involving a Hampshire man who flicked his blood at nurses and doctors at Southampton General Hospital before going on to smear it over the inside of a police van after he had been arrested.

Shannon Matthew Oliver Earley, of Wavell Road, Bitterne was given a six-month community order and also ordered to undergo a six-month course of treatment to handle alcohol abuse when he appeared at Southampton Magistrates’ Court this week.

Two months were also added to a suspended sentence the 23-year-old had received for a previous offence, which didn’t involve alcohol.

Before sentencing Earley, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal damage and a further charge threatening behaviour, District Judge Anthony Callaway said: “It is gross behaviour in a hospital. Flicking blood at hospital staff is simply not on.

“A lot of people would say that is worth custody in itself.

“I do not like you very much. It is about time they just chuck people like you out.”

During the case the judge had already shouted at Earley, ordering him to take his hands out of his pockets.

Prosecuting, Rachel Standish said that on November 27 Earley had become drunk and aggressive, damaging a glass panel in his friend’s front door.

Police were called and Earley was arrested but was taken to Southampton General Hospital for treatment for the injuries he had sustained his hand when breaking the door.

The court heard Earley, who is unemployed, became more obstructive at the hospital and began flicking blood from his hand at staff, who eventually refused to treat him.

Ms Standish said when the defendant was put back in the police van he smeared his blood around the interior of the vehicle.

Defending Julie Masey said: “These offences coincide with the anniversary of his two twin daughters being born and adopted.”

She added the defendant was intoxicated at the time although he did not feel he had an alcohol problem.

Although he did not drink alcohol on a regular basis when he did, he drank to excess.

Ms Masey said Earley was still living with his friend, whose door he had damaged, and had apologised to him and had arranged to reimburse him for the broken glass.

Despite the judge’s robust comments a health union boss said he was “disappointed” with the sentence in the light of figures which showed that violent assaults against NHS staff had increased by 22 per cent over the last five years.

Tony Jones, the south east’s regional head of health at Unison, said: “I am disappointed that the court has not taken firmer action in this case. Not many people will take a zero tolerance policy seriously if this is to be the outcome.”

He added that lower level abuse of health staff took place on a daily basis.

“Much of this behaviour can be attributed to drink or drug abuse but regardless of the circumstances staff should not have to work in fear of attack or intimidation,” Mr Jones said.

A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our first priority will always be providing the best treatment, care and support to any patient who attends our hospitals in need of medical attention, but violence and aggression towards our staff is unacceptable and we work very closely with our police colleagues to ensure, where appropriate, action is taken when such instances occur.”

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