Nurses un­der siege

Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS - Jaime Shurmer

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.

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