Domestic violence survivor re-traumatised by Port Lincoln Hospital attack 

245 November 2021

A domestic violence survivor who witnessed a patient attack at Port Lincoln Hospital says the site needs more staff and security guards.

Alex B, who agreed to speak to The Advertiser under anonymity, was in the cubicle next to a patient who attacked hospital staff on October 15, leading to him being shackled to his bed and sedated.

The Advertiser reported Ms B is “reluctant” to ever return to the hospital after witnessing the incident, which triggered her post traumatic stress disorder.

Port Lincoln’s only hospital has been the site of a surge in violent incidents, but the local network health management continues to ignore the ANMF (SA Branch)’s pleas for 24/7 on-site security - despite a nurse almost being killed during a vicious assault two years ago and despite the fact Code Black incidents (violence and/or aggression) have tripled at the hospital in the last two years.

About 10 Code Black incidents were called at Port Lincoln Hospital last month alone, with, on one occasion, the entire Port Lincoln SAPOL on-duty force, six police officers, having to restrain a man who punched a doctor in the emergency department and attempted to bite and spit on other staff.  

Alex B told The Advertiser the patient’s actions “triggered my PTSD”.

“I have a long history of being in domestic violence relationships and I definitely did not feel safe,’’ she said. “The incident sent me into a full-blown panic attack. It was very confrontational.”

Ms B blamed a lack of staff for the incident. She said police officers were called to restrain the patient who was occupying the attention of most of the hospital staff.  “No one was being seen (by staff) for about four hours – more staff and security guards would be a good step,’’ she said.

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM noted that in June this year the Whyalla and Port Augusta hospitals committed to 24/7 on-site security guards after a staggering 22 assaults against nurses in little over a month.

“That commitment has led to a dramatic de-escalation in violence, with staff saying they feel far more secure at work,’’ she said.

“This Thursday is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The most effective way to eliminate violence against our overwhelmingly female nursing and midwifery workforce is 24/7 security guards.

“We continue to call for the implementation of 24/7 on-site restraint-trained security guards as a matter of urgency and potentially as a matter of life and death,’’ Ms Dabars said.