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Attacks on our frontline hospital staff on the rise

NO MORE: Ipswich Hospital emergency department staff (from left) Matthew Bryant, Dr Daniel Bitmead and Laura Harrison.
NO MORE: Ipswich Hospital emergency department staff (from left) Matthew Bryant, Dr Daniel Bitmead and Laura Harrison. ROB WILLIAMS

THE number of assaults on staff at Ipswich Hospital is among one of the worst in the state when compared with other facilities.

Everyday frontline hospital staff going about their normal duties are subjected to either physical or verbal assault from patients or visitors - with nurses working in the emergency department the most common targets.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service figures reveal there were 320 physical assaults reported between 2012 and 2013 and 231 between 2013 and 2014.

The number of assaults reported between 2014 and 2015 was 242 - a slight increase on the previous year.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane topped the state with 831 physical assaults on staff over the past three years.

Ipswich Hospital come in second with 793 reported assaults and Cairns Hospital came in third with 641 assaults.

The worrying trend does not include verbal assaults or physical assaults which went unreported.

Ipswich Hospital emergency services director Dr Daniel Bitmead said the hospital had worked hard to ensure staff remained safe at work.

He said the hospital had a number of programs to assist staff should they become victims of violence while at work.

"The emergency department can be a very hostile environment," he said.

"Alcohol and drugs are certainly a big factor in assaults on staff.

"The more concerning acts of violence towards staff are the ones without warning or the ones where the patient does not have a medical condition which could affect their thinking.

"Sometimes those who come in are definitely more prone to being violent, but in saying that we can see violence from all types of different patients."

Dr Bitmead said the affect on staff members who have been assaulted varies, but either way it was a very traumatic experience.

He said the hospital provides support, training and resources to all staff to help manage aggressive behaviour in the workplace.

"I am aware of staff that have been punched and almost daily staff are subjected to verbal abuse," he said.

"Staff who have been assaulted are well within their rights to press charges against those responsible.

"We have a security presence at the hospital but irrespective of that you should not have to put up with violence in the workplace.

"At the end of the day we are all human who have families."

Topics:  hospital ipswich rise staff



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