NURSE Greg Jackson says during his eight-year career he has found himself at times “nose to nose” with those threatening violence against medical staff at Wodonga hospital.
But Mr Jackson, who works one to two days a week in the hospital’s emergency department as well as co-ordinating occupational health and safety for clinical staff, says meeting potential violence with more violence is a recipe for disaster.
“It is not the way to go, you only get into more trouble,” he said.
Instead, Mr Jackson is involved in training nursing staff in early recognition and the de-escalation of potentially violent situations in a program that was launched this month and will continue with further training next year.
It is part of statewide package to increase public awareness of violence against nurses and carers in the workplace, redesign working environments for increased safety, standardise signage and develop policies, procedures and reporting.
Wodonga hospital’s acting director of patient services, Elaine Mallows, said occupational violence had been recognised as an issue for nurses for some time, with three or four incidents reported monthly.
It had been on the increase over the past decade and the problem could be worse during the festive season, she said.
“Its frequency is increasing. We want to go public with a campaign that says it is not acceptable, nurses need to feel safe at work,” she said.
“We are not training bouncers or security staff. We are assisting them to de-escalate a situation and make it more calm.”
Ms Mallows said there was no particular stereotype for those who might threaten violence on hospital staff.
Mr Jackson said a failure by some people to understand the hospital’s system of triaging patients according to need often led to frustration.
Kym Shreeve, manager of occupational health safety and wellbeing for Greater Southern Area Health Service, said violence against hospital staff was occurring across NSW on a daily basis.
“There is a training program aimed at making them safer place to work and that program is mandatory for all staff,” she said.
“We have zero tolerance to aggression from patients and families.