Blacktown emergency nurses voice safety issues, demand action
The rally was called after an emergency nurse was chased by a patient armed with a syringe inside the department, after a doctor had been allegedly assaulted.
Nurses from Blacktown, Cumberland and Westmead and hospitals gathered yesterday morning outside Blacktown Hospital Emergency Department to raise safety issues following a violent attack in Blacktown Hospital last week.
The action was called after an emergency nurse was chased by a patient armed with a syringe inside the department after a doctor had been allegedly assaulted. The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) called for better safety provisions as the victims had limited access to duress alarms and personal duress alarms were unavailable.
“We’ve got a situation here [at Blacktown] where the duress systems have been shown not to be working. We’ve got members here from Auburn, Westmead and Cumberland and we’re hearing similar stories that the duress systems just aren’t up to scratch,” stated NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary Michael Whaites.
The event was an urgent gathering organised on a short notice as nurses gathered at 7:30 am, usually the end of a night shift for several healthcare workers. NSWNMA members highlighted the urgent need to create safer workspaces for nurses by ensuring “a ratio of one nurse to every three treatment spaces inside emergency departments across NSW” to start with. Currently, there are no stringent nurse-to-patient ratios enforceable in the department.
Jason Temu, NSWNMA Blacktown Hospital branch member and Emergency Department nurse, said there is always an element of elevated risk in EDs as staff have to deal with many patients with behavioural challenges. “They [management] only recently started to introduce new duress systems, which are still a work in progress,” added Temu.
A recently released report by NSWNMA revealed that 15 in every 100 nurses and midwives suffer from chronic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Honi is awaiting a comment from Blacktown Hospital.