A VIOLENT outburst at Werribee Mercy Hospital, in which a man punched and threatened to kill nurses and a security guard, has added to calls for the government to protect frontline workers.
Mercy Health says there are up to six violent episodes at the Werribee emergency ward every week, most involving patients with drug or mental health problems and anger over lengthy waiting times.
In November, paramedics took a Werribee man, 19, to the hospital after police followed a trail of blood to parkland near his house where they found him self-harming.
Werribee Magistrates Court last Wednesday heard that the man became angry and aggr-essive when nurses would not give him anti-depressants, and began making threats to kill a hospital security guard.
He left the hospital but soon returned, yelling more threats at nurses, and assaulted a security guard who tackled him to the ground.
Magistrate John Bentley ordered the man be assessed for a community corrections order mandating mental health treatment.
A nurse told the Weekly aggressive behaviour, ranging from low-level abuse to serious assaults, was commonplace at Werribee Mercy. The nurse, who did not want to be named, said waiting times regularly fuelled violence.
“People have yelled and screamed at me when I’ve been working in triage, displaying really aggressive behaviour,” she said.
Incidents of ongoing violence and abuse at Victorian hospitals have prompted renewed calls for the state government to honour a pre-election promise to create a specific offence for assaulting emergency ward staff.
Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said it was disappointing the government hadn’t released details of the new legislation and demanded the government detail how it will spend a promised $5.8 million to implement 18 recommendations of a state inquiry, including training for medical staff and security guards on violence prevention and a public awareness campaign.
Health Minister David Davis said an advisory committee of medical experts, hospital management, security staff and police would be set up to guide the rollout of the recommendations.
Mercy Health chief operating officer John Fogarty said the hospital supported measures to put trained guards in wards, but did not want them to be armed with guns.