The legal services of the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) have received four favourable sentences condemning the perpetrators of assaults on several health professionals in the province of Almeria. The court considers the facts denounced by the victims during the performance of their duties, classified as crimes of injury and threats under current legislation, to be proven, and imposes prison sentences in three of the cases, a restraining order and compensation.
The events in two of the court sentences issued last year occurred in the Ejido Norte health centre, which is part of the Poniente Health District. The Provincial Court ratified a multiple aggression, which occurred in July 2018, affecting the family doctor who attended the aggressor and the colleagues who came to his aid (a nurse, an orderly and a security guard). The victims were insulted and threatened with a knife. The judge, who dismissed the appeal lodged by the accused, handed down a sentence of twelve months’ imprisonment in total, a ban on approaching the victims within 200 metres of their home, place of work or study or any place frequented by them for one year and six months and compensation.
The second aggression recorded at the Ejido Norte Health Centre took place last September in the early hours of the morning. The argument between the user and the doctor who attended him originated “as a result of a mask” and led to physical aggression. The Court of First Instance and Instruction No. 2 of El Ejido sentenced the aggressor for a minor offence of injury to a fine of 70 days, to compensate the complainant and to stay away at least 50 metres from his home, workplace or any other place for a period of two months.
For the manager of the Poniente Health District, Enriqueta Quesada, these are two “exemplary” sentences. “They should serve to make our professionals feel protected by the health and judicial system, to encourage them to report any type of intimidation or aggression and to make society aware of the seriousness of intimidating a health professional. Assault does not come free of charge,” he says.
In addition to these two convictions in the Poniente Health District, there are two more convictions for physical assaults with prison sentences of six months and one year and six months in the Almería Health District and the North Health Management Area. In the four court rulings recorded in 2021 in Almeria, the perpetrators were sentenced to a prison term and the corresponding compensation. Half of the cases were resolved by speedy trial.
Prevention and Care Plan
From the territorial delegation of Health and Families in Almeria it is stressed that, since 2015, article 550 of the Penal Code states that any aggression, physical or verbal, against a teacher or health professional in the exercise of their duties or as a result of them is considered an attack on authority, with prison sentences of six months to three years, in addition to a fine and a ban.
The Junta de Andalucía continues to work on the ‘Plan de prevención y atención de agresiones para los profesionales del sistema sanitario público andaluz’ with the incorporation of a professional guide against aggressions. He is in charge of helping to prevent aggressions through the identification of conflictive situations, referring people with a high potential for conflict to the social worker or educator, and of accompanying assaulted healthcare workers.
There is also a provincial health interlocutor and a police health interlocutor, both in the Guardia Civil and the National Police, who work in coordination. “Assaults on health workers have been a growing problem in recent years, not only in Spain, but also in the countries around us. In Spain, since 2010, the European Day against Health Assaults is commemorated. A year before, the first Spanish health worker died in the exercise of his duties”, recalls the provincial health interlocutor, Fernando Carrasco, who advises “always report, even verbal aggressions”.
Through the aforementioned plan, the Andalusian Regional Government facilitates this procedure for the attacked health worker through the corresponding management and offers accompaniment and support “from the first moment” by qualified professionals. Preventive measures are also implemented, focusing on the training of healthcare personnel by the State Security Forces and Corps and awareness-raising information campaigns.