The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has welcomed the state government’s long-awaited release of its final report into hospital security, but fears it won’t be enough unless additional nurses are employed.
NSWNMA Acting General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, said many of the measures outlined in the final report were already current policies, but they had not been applied or enforced to better protect staff or patients, and increased clinical staffing should be a part of the solution.
“We’ve highlighted before just how normalised acts of verbal and physical violence have become for nurses and midwives going about their work in our public hospitals,” Ms Kiejda said.
“The government has committed to adopting these additional measures, but they haven’t prioritised the need to ensure our hospitals and health facilities are staffed appropriately, particularly in some of the regional sites.
“In rural and regional areas, our nursing staff are regularly put at risk and this is often compounded by short staffing.
“We agree there is a need for more hospital security across the state, but security personnel cannot be expected to provide the clinical care being sought by patients coming through the front door.
“Additional violence prevention and management training, as well as refresher courses, are welcome measures but you still need the presence of clinical nursing staff to reduce incidents or help to de-escalate situations.
“Extra security is important, but it’s not the only solution that is required. It’s not going to help improve the triaging of patients or reduce waiting times in our emergency departments – the right number and skill mix of nursing staff is essential – as well as proper support for staff to report incidents when they occur.
“Unless the government is prepared to acknowledge this, we fear it will be some time before incidents of violence and aggression towards hospital staff is significantly reduced.
“We need the government to support our nurses and midwives by implementing safe staffing, that can be achieved by mandating nurse-to-patient ratios throughout NSW.
“Victoria and Queensland both have mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in their public health systems, NSW needs to step up.”