EDITORIAL: Opposition proposal to make health care environments safer is welcome

In an ideal world violence and acts of aggression would not be part of any health care environment.


But in reality, hospitals,in particular emergency departments, are more likely to be places where psychological and emotionalstresses, often fuelled by alcohol andillicit substances, combine with disastrous consequences.

More often than not, those who bear the brunt of this behaviourare health care workers attempting to care for their attackers.

Hospital security has come a long way in recent decades from the days when there used to be little more than a security post at the main entrance.

Modern Australian hospitals usuallyemploymany security staff in varied roles around the clock.

Theyare supported by a network technology, primarily closed circuit cameras, to ensure that care can be provided in the best possible environment.

But like nurses and other areas of health care resourcing, there is always a case for more

Statistics released by the NSW Opposition show assaults in the state’s hospitals over the past five yearshave increased by 33 per cent to about 50 every month.

Therewere 36 assaults on staff, patients and families at Hunter hospitals in the year to June. In the 12 months prior, there were 20 assaults in hospitals across the region.

The Opposition has proposed employing anadditional 250 health security staff in its first term if elected next year.

Hospital security officers would be upgraded to “health security staff” with additional powers similar to special constables who can carry weapons such as pepper spray and batons.

Extra training would be provided tohealth security staff, including training inskills to defuse hostile situations.

It would also create a specialist secure hospitals unitto oversee the activity of new health security staff and conduct safety audits of the state’s hospitals, in particular emergency departments.

All of these proposals would help make our hospitals and health care environments safer.

Everyone who works or is a patient in a health care setting deserves to be treated with respect and feel they are safe.

Government resourcing needs to reflect this fundamental community expectation.

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