Win for country members 

23 July 2020

Members at Yorketown Hospital recently took action to resolve serious WHS concerns after multiple of acts of physical aggression towards staff members from a dementia patient.

Hospitals located in country areas, like Yorketown Hospital, often have little to no access to security guards, limited availability of on-call staff or extra staff rostering and are often forced to wait extended periods of time for police assistance when Code Black incidents occur.

Members had experienced ongoing Code Black incidents over a two-week period at Yorketown Hospital with an ad hoc response from management that did not resolve members’ concerns.

The ANMF (SA Branch) urgently sought on behalf of members the below measures, with management agreeing to implement the following arrangements:

  • Urgent patient transfer to a specialist geriatric assessment unit in Adelaide.
  • Urgent implementation of one extra staff member 24 hours /7 days on the roster with MAPA or de-escalation training allocated to the patient, providing 1:1 care to the patient and support to staff members.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is offered to all staff assaulted by the patient and group counselling debriefing is arranged for all staff members.

Yorketown Hospital management immediately allocated an extra staff member 24 hours a day /7days until the urgent transfer of the patient to a suitable Adelaide facility and members’ concerns resolved.

As it is important for members to have opportunities to debrief after Code Black incidents to reduce staff burnout; the Yorke and Northern LHN Work Health Safety consultant is organising EAP support for staff and counselling.

Members in all country and metropolitan worksites are encouraged to report and escalate Code Black WHS concerns to management and contact the ANMF (SA Branch) Duty Officer if these concerns remain unresolved.

ANMF (SA Branch) Officers can be contacted to support members and follow up serious concerns.

ANMF (SA Branch) will continue to monitor the implementation of the Challenging Behaviour policy/guidelines and ensure that LHNs meet their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act SA 2012.