Urgent calls to stop increasing violence in hospitals
WORKING in a busy hospital — often dealing with difficult medical emergencies — is tough enough. But a growing number of medical staff are being forced to deal with violence and abuse on-the-job.
Threatening phone calls, rocks hurled, windows smashed and violent threats during emergency operations are just some of the harrowing incidents midwife Annette Alldrick and her colleagues have been forced to endure in recent weeks.
“It can be very tough, especially on night shift, or during holidays such as Christmas,” says Ms Alldrick, who has been a nurse for 39 years.
“It’s quite scary when these assaults or htreats go on and we have only one or two security guards on duty, with very limited powers.”
Now Unions are demanding action to tackle violence and improve patient safety.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) welcomed recent discussions over serious violent incidents and aggression occurring in public hospitals.
Acting General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Judith Kiejda, said action must be taken before someone gets hurt or killed.
“The prevalence of violent and aggressive incidents occurring in public hospitals needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” she said.
“Given the escalating nature of these incidents and the fact they are occurring in both metropolitan and regional hospital settings, as well as beyond emergency departments, we are all of the view that appropriately trained security staff are paramount.”
Ms Alldrick agreed: “We recently had someone smash a window in the early hours of the morning. Later he came back and forced his way into an operating room where a caesarian procedure was underway. That’s frightening in a small, confined space.”
Later during that night shift, after a series of threatening phone calls, nurses on duty were afraid to go ouside, Ms Alldrick, a councillor at the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association told Working Life.
Incidents like these are increasing for nurses on the coalface of hospital care, said Ms Alldrick, who works at Nowra.
She backed Union calls for increased security and better lock out rules.
“There should be zero tolerance and stronger lockout laws, before it’s too late.”
The NSWNMA, together with the Health Services Union (HSU), Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) and Australian Medical Association of NSW (AMA), met with officials from the Ministry of Health in North Sydney this month to highlight their concerns and put forward options.
“There were lengthy talks about the need for consistent approaches to managing and caring for substance-fuelled patients who present to our hospitals for treatment, be that illicit drugs or alcohol,” said Ms Kiejda.
“We also acknowledged that our society is rapidly changing and improved ways of interacting with police and law enforcement agencies is required in all areas, including rural and remote NSW.
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