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