4 Dec 2018

Short-term fix to protect nurses: more security

11:37 am on 4 December 2018
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Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

This comes after assault reports where one nurse was stabbed, one attacked with boiling water and another strangled at a Christchurch Hospital.

Nurses at Hillmorton Hospital said hospital management were "out of touch" and they were frustrated that no immediate fixes were proposed.

They said they raised the idea of putting more security staff throughout the unit, especially in the high care areas, where the worst assaults often occur.

In a 2016 study of 85 nurses who worked within an acute hospital setting, 75 percent said they had experienced attempted assault at some stage in their career. About 84 percent of the respondents were verbally abused in the year preceding it.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) Organiser John Miller said the issue had "continually got worse".

It was unacceptable that nurses were getting abused, physically attacked, and injured from going to work he told Morning Report.

He suggested a short-term fix of having security on the wards, particularly in the four-ward, 65-bed acute in patient setting.

"There has been some security brought in but there needs to be another look at it. Probably needs to be ramped up, to be honest. It's not perfect, it's far from perfect, but there does need to be a short-term fix."

Mr Miller said there was more than just an issue with Hillmorton Hospital, an increase in patient population was a problem.

"It's about the population, not particularly about the institution. It clearly has issues with infrastructure. Post earthquake, Christchurch has got a population under pressure, even six seven years on, some people are really vulnerable and really unwell, plus there's an issue with drugs."

Nurse left with severe burns after patient attacked

Nurse left with severe burns after being attacked with boiling water. Photo: RNZ / YouTube

The Canterbury District Health board said no level of violence towards staff or anyone else was acceptable, and a review process was underway to understand what happened and how to reduce the chance of a recurrence.

Following the widely publicised assaults on staff, Canterbury DHB met with about 50 nurses from the Adult Acute Inpatient Unit at the hospital.

CEO David Meates said they had an "open and honest conversation".

"Our mental health services are under significant pressure and this is impacting not only the care we provide our consumers but the safety of our staff.

"The service is currently caring for twice the volume of patients than prior to the Canterbury earthquakes with the same number of beds and in inadequate facilities."

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