Nurses under siege
MORE than 500 assaults on nurses were reported in just six months at one hospital in Perth last year.
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) staff lodged 515 assaults in the second half of last year, more than double the number of assaults for the same timeframe in 2017.
By contrast, Royal Perth Hospital recorded 51 assaults for the second half of 2018, Fremantle Hospital 97 and Fiona Stanley Hospital recorded 52 assaults.
Health Minister Roger Cook released the figures in Parliament in response to a question from Opposition Leader Mike Nahan just days after a nurse at Royal Perth Hospital was attacked.
In Parliament, Mr Cook questioned the overall integrity of the data and said he wanted to see a more uniform approach.
Mr Cook told Community News different hospitals had different definitions of what constituted an assault and how to report violence against staff.
“I want to see a new, system-wide and consistent approach across our public hospitals,” Mr Cook said.
“These are difficult and complex issues, however we must act and be clear: violence will not be tolerated.
“I will be holding an urgent roundtable meeting with health stakeholders to address the issue of assaults against staff and in particular identify the strategies that will improve the situation.”
He will make contact with the new Federal Health Minister about an election promise to fund a $4.8 million Behavioural Assessment Unit at SCGH.
“The unit will provide better support for people presenting to the hospital’s emergency department with mental illness and drug and alcohol issues,” he said.
Dr Nahan said the increase in assaults on nurses since 2017 was “extremely alarming”.
“Premier Mark McGowan has run out of excuses not to act; we don’t need more talk from the State Government, we need action and we need our nurses protected,” he said.
The figures showed slight decreases at some hospitals, including Fiona Stanley and Rockingham, but also sharp increases at Bentley, Fremantle and SCGH.