Health staff defenceless after security guards axed

HEALTH staff could be left to handle violent situations alone at the Ipswich Health Plaza after its security staff were axed.

The last of the health plaza's security staff finished on Friday, despite a stabbing taking place on the back steps of the facility last year.

In the place of security a "code black response team", made up health professionals, has been established to handle security issues at the facility.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Finance Director Ian Wright said the code black team was trained to handle escalating situations.

But an Ipswich Health Plaza employee told The Queensland Times the team was not prepared to deal with physical confrontations.

The employee said the code black team included women not trained to handle the aggressive and violent patients security guards faced at the plaza.

"They are saying there's a highly trained code black team, they are trained in aggressive behaviour management. Security guards are trained to take a person down," he said.

The Bell St health facility treats mental health, drug, tobacco and alcohol addiction and offers a needle and syringe program.

Mr Wright said in the previous two years security staff had not been involved in any incidents in the Health Plaza precinct - a claim the employee rejected.

The employee said security staff were regularly forced to "take down" patients, and were the first on scene at a stabbing last year.

Queensland Police confirmed officers responded to an unlawful wounding on November 14 at the East St exit to the building after a woman was attacked.

Mr Wright said the code black response team was comprised of experienced clinicians, some senior positions, trained in aggressive behaviour management.

"This training encompasses environmental and situational awareness, verbal de-escalation techniques and personal safety," he said.

The WMHHS defines a code black incident as the activation of a duress alarm resulting from threatening and unacceptable behaviour.

Mr Wright said the Health Plaza has recorded three code black incidents since February 21.

"The decision was made following risk assessments that indicated the physical presence of a security officer at the Plaza was not warranted on a full-time basis."

"In the past two years, this security position has not been involved in any incidences in the Ipswich Health Plaza precinct."

Mr Wright said in some circumstances Queensland Police officers would be called to handle situations.

Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the Bell St facility needed a security presence.

"I couldn't believe that after all of the publicity and issues in Bell St that they would decide to get rid of security in the health plaza," he said.

"That is dangerous to the workers, the public and the other patients."

Ipswich MP Ian Berry said health staff worked hard to provide vital frontline health services in the face of the challenges left by the former Labor Government.



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