Wimmera hospitals to have a standardised emergency response to violence

Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Chris Scott said there was an urgent need for a standardised approach to violent situations.

Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Chris Scott said there was an urgent need for a standardised approach to violent situations.

WIMMERA leaders have backed a standardised emergency response to violent incidents at hospitals to improve workplace safety for Wimmera heath care workers.

'Code grey' is a hospital co-ordinated clinical and security response to actual or potential patient aggression or violence.

The response activates an internal alert and an emergency response team.

While most Wimmera hospitals already have code grey in place, Ms Fitzpatrick said the policy still needed State Government funding to be fully implemented across all hospitals.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation Victoria branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the branch lobbied the State Government to introduce mandatory security policies to protect Victoria's health professionals.

Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Chris Scott said there was an urgent need for a standardised approach to violent situations.

"We have a code grey emergency response to violence in our hospitals to address the long-standing and growing problems of unacceptable behaviour," he said.

"To have a standardised approach and have it clearly recognised as an issue in the system is very pleasing."

Mr Scott said violent incidents happened regularly.

"It's a growing problem and it's something we ask the community to be tolerant of," he said.

"When people come to the hospital, we want to remind them that it is public space where people are cared for, and we really need them to behave in a manner that is acceptable."

Mr Scott said having the code grey system in place was beneficial for the hospital.

“Having a security presence does help but we also need to acknowledge that it is usually people who are drug and alcohol affected who are the problem and we have the right to remove that person from our premises,” Mr Scott said.

Wimmera Superintendent Graham Kent said there had been a number of violent incidents at hospitals in the region within the past month alone.

He said in the past fortnight, police were called to the Wimmera Base Hospital to help with an out-of-control crystal methamphetamine user.

Mr Kent said ice-affected people exhibiting signs of psychosis and violence were often the cause of such calls.

“We treat them as a high priority,” he said.

Mr Kent said more than one police unit would generally be dispatched to the hospital to help.

“That’s about ensuring everyone’s safety,” he said.

“We have regular consultations and communication with the hospital about how these incidents are managed, and we certainly would support any improvement in how the hospital deals with these issues internally.”

Ms Fitzpatrick said the government must make available the $21 million it promised ahead of the last election to implement the policy and fund additional security staff and equipment.

Code grey differs from code black, which is a hospital-wide internal security response to actual or potential aggression involving a weapon or a serious threat to personal safety. 

Mr Kent said hospitals were not the only places people could exhibit violent behaviour.

“In any of these instances, we encourage people to ring Triple 0,” he said.

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