Ur­gent call: Please ad­dress Plight of nurses, Staff of St Giles

Fiji Sun - - Comment - NEMANI DELAIBATIKI Feed­back: nemani.delaibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

Nurses at St Giles Hos­pi­tal in Suva have a le­git­i­mate con­cern. As they go to work daily, they have to worry about their safety. This is to­tally un­ac­cept­able and some­thing needs to be done ur­gently to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion. It has been al­leged that their con­cerns had been raised with ap­pro­pri­ate man­age­ment au­thor­i­ties in the past. But lit­tle or noth­ing has been done. Nurses should not be al­lowed to work in an environment where they feel in­se­cure.

It per­son­ally af­fects their health and makes it dif­fi­cult for them to fo­cus on look­ing af­ter pa­tients. Over­all, it has a neg­a­tive im­pact on ser­vices and per­for­mances. It has been al­leged that nurses and or­der­lies had been punched, had chairs thrown at them and abused.

In the lat­est case, a pa­tient of big build, tried to force a fe­male nurse into a room to sex­u­ally abuse her. But she was res­cued by a male staff mem­ber who dis­lo­cated his shoul­der in the process.

The in­ci­dent high­lights the se­ri­ous risks the hos­pi­tal staff are ex­posed to ev­ery day. It’s in­cum­bent on ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties to deal with this is­sue ur­gently. They should cut out the bu­reau­cratic red tape and act on the work­ers’ con­cerns now be­fore some­one gets se­ri­ously hurt. The nurses and other staff at the coal­face are speak­ing out for bet­ter and safer work­ing con­di­tions.

If the hos­pi­tal is short of staff then it needs to hire more to make the full com­ple­ment. If it needs more male staff, then by all means get more male staff. If it needs more se­cu­rity pres­ence then it should act ac­cord­ingly. To make mat­ters worse, the staff say they have not been paid their risk al­lowance un­der the Men­tal Health De­cree 2010 This should be re­solved as soon as pos­si­ble to help main­tain staff morale. The Min­is­ter for Health and Med­i­cal Ser­vices, Rosy Ak­bar, should treat this is­sue as top pri­or­ity. Men­tal health is usu­ally mis­un­der­stood in this coun­try. It is of­ten linked to those who we some­times la­bel as mad or crazy or men­tally un­sta­ble.

Those who are ad­mit­ted at St Giles have some form of men­tal ill­ness and need to be treated. They dis­play con­di­tions and be­hav­iour that can make them a risk to oth­ers and them­selves per­son­ally. That’s the rea­son why they need con­stant mon­i­tor­ing and su­per­vi­sion.

Un­pre­dictable anti-so­cial be­hav­iour can take staff by sur­prise.

Nurses, or­der­lies and other staff, there­fore, play a cru­cial role in main­tain­ing peace and or­der. The work they do should be recog­nised. Their con­cerns about se­cu­rity and safety must be taken se­ri­ously. At the same time we need to change our mind­set about how we per­ceive St Giles as an in­sti­tu­tion, its med­i­cal per­son­nel and aux­il­iary staff. Men­tal ill­ness is an­other form of ill­ness and should be treated like­wise. De­pres­sion is a form of men­tal ill­ness. Of­ten we tend to stig­ma­tise those associated with the in­sti­tu­tion. When we la­bel a per­son by his or her ill­ness, they are seen as mem­bers of a stereo­typed group. This leads to neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes which cre­ate prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Let’s hope this does not colour the way we look at med­i­cal staff and other work­ers. Let’s not for­get them but look at ways on how we can im­prove their work­ing environment.

Theirs is an oner­ous task, to take care of pa­tients who, with­out warn­ing, can at­tack them be­cause of their men­tal state.

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