Prioritising The Safety Of Public Health Services Can No Longer Be Delayed

25 June 2019

After yet another tragic incident involving the nursing and midwifery community—the facts around which are still being investigated by police—the ANMF (SA Branch) has called on the State Government to prioritise the safety of staff and patients accessing public health services.

The ANMF (SA Branch) has been seeking action on violence in and around hospitals for years, and this latest incident is yet another example of the need for urgency in implementation.

SA Health has failed to implement the existing challenging behaviour policy framework that has been in place since 2014, and during that time violence and aggression has continued to escalate.

The ANMF (SA Branch) tabled a ten-point plan to end violence and aggression in and around health care settings with SA Health last year and have followed this up with the Department on various occasions. To date, no commitment to implementing the plan has been given.

The plan is based on a model developed by our ANMF counterparts interstate and is proving successful in Victoria where it has received the full support of the State Government. The plan includes the following measures to build a zero tolerance to violent and aggressive behaviours in health care:

  • Improve security
  • Identify risk to staff and others
  • Include family in the development of patient care plans
  • Report, investigate and act
  • Prevent violence through workplace design
  • Provide education and training to health care staff
  • Integrate legislation, policies and procedures
  • Provide post-incident support
  • Apply anti-violence approach across all health disciplines
  • Empower staff to expect a safe workplace

The ANMF (SA Branch) continues to provide support to members at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, many of whom were not made aware of the incident—or that the perpetrator was still at-large—when they left the hospital after their shifts last night.

It is distressing to think that staff and patients were allowed to walk out of that hospital just hours later, completely unaware that an extremely violent incident had just taken place.

The ANMF (SA Branch) regards the absence of any such warning as a complete failure by hospital management and has conveyed its concerns and expectations to SA Health in this regard today.