January 17, 2017

Hospital workers faced with violence on a weekly basis

There have been 189 reports of physical or verbal assault towards Mackay Hospital and Health Service staff in less than six months, reports DailyMercury.com:

The figures from July to December last year come as the hospital's Medical Ward nurse unit manager, Sharyn Bird, reveals her staff face aggression on a weekly basis.

Ms Bird said herself and her staff experience one aggressive incident per week on average.

"All staff have the right to feel safe in their workplace and should not have to deal with violence as part of their job,” she said.

"Working in healthcare your natural instinct is to help people so it can be difficult to just walk away from a situation when a patient is getting physically or verbally violent with you.”

Ms Bird said acts of aggression had unfortunately become so prevalent it's "at the stage where many of the staff consider these situations to be part of the job”.

" ... but nobody should have to put up with being assaulted while at work,” she said.

"We need to change people's attitudes about what is and isn't acceptable and educate them about the consequences for assaulting healthcare workers.”

As part of her efforts to combat violence towards nurses, paramedics and other healthcare workers, Ms Bird has signed up as a Peer Support Responder in the hospital's recently launched Peer Support Program (PSP).

The health service initiative links staff with specially trained peers, like Ms Bird, who can assist with quick response and crisis intervention for staff involved in violence incidents at work.

As part of the program, Ms Bird will receive specialised training in psychological first aid, and monthly peer supervision sessions.

The PSP pilot program has now commenced in Mackay Base Hospital's Emergency Department and Medical Ward, as well as at Proserpine Hospital.

Queensland Health launched a campaign last year to try and reduce violence towards healthcare workers, which has happened more frequently in recent years.

It came after more than 3300 healthcare workers were physically assaulted in Queensland during the 2014/15 financial year.

Data shows that many of the violent attacks against health care workers were fuelled by alcohol and drugs.

People found guilty of assaulting a healthcare worker can receive up to 14 years in prison.