Hospitals talk violence as ice-addict patients lash out
THE Baird Government has backed a 12-point action plan to improve security at New South Wales hospitals, as health workers come to grips with a new wave of drug-fuelled violence.
Byron District and Tweed Heads emergency departments will be among 20 facilities undergoing a complete security audit.
The Health Services Union revealed Tweed Hospital staff recorded 500 violent incidents last month alone, as well as an instance of a car almost running down a security guard in December.
The action plan, devised at a roundtable meeting of health workers and union representatives in Sydney, calls for intensive training for new and existing staff on how to deal with violent situations.
"The roundtable came up with a comprehensive action plan and I am very happy to endorse it," Health Minister Jillian Skinner said.
NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association acting general secretary Judith Kiejda noted Ms Skinner did not attend the discussions but said she was confident the minister would be fully briefed.
"There was consensus that the prevalence of violent and aggressive incidents occurring in the state's public hospitals needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency," Ms Kiejda 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.
"We discussed the need for improved training of all hospital staff, including nurses and midwives, who may be required to intervene when critical situations arise and for that training to be consistent across the state."
Ms Kiejda said dealing with so many drug and alcohol affected patients made traditional care techniques difficult.
"We outlined the need for clinical assessments of substance-fuelled patients to ensure the correct escalation plans can be enacted for the safety of the patients themselves, hospital staff and other bystanders.
"We also acknowledged that our society is rapidly changing and improved ways of interacting with police and law enforcement agencies are required in all areas, including rural and remote NSW."
The Opposition claimed the government had repeatedly covered up violence in public hospitals.
"Now is the time for the Baird Government to come clean on the extent of violence in NSW hospitals," Shadow health minister Walt Secord said.
"Doctors, nurses and paramedics have long been complaining about violence in hospitals.
"Covering up these incidents does not make them disappear or make staff any safer." -APN NEWSDESK