Massive safety win for Whyalla and Port Augusta

8 April 2021

In a massive win for nurse and patient safety, Whyalla and Port Augusta hospitals are planning to introduce 24/7 on-site security protection services.

The welcome move follows a spate of violent attacks and widespread media coverage after the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) exposed a staggering 22 assaults against nurses at Whyalla Hospital in a one-month period earlier this year, including incidents of nurses being bitten, punched and strangled.

Despite the constant threat of violence, Whyalla and Port Augusta hospitals, like most regional sites, have had no security presence, relying on police attendance in the event of a Code Black (violence and/or aggression) incident.

Police often prioritise an urgent response to hospital call-outs but this can have the unintended effect of leaving the community unattended.

The Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network has released a statement saying it was planning the introduction of on-site security protection services at Whyalla Hospital and Port Augusta Hospital. “Whilst we are currently working through the detail of these services, it is anticipated that this service will be provided 24 hours a day, seven days per week,’’ the statement said.

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj. Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM, who visited both the Whyalla and Port Augusta hospitals today, hailed the news as a “huge win for the safety of our members and patients’’.

“We congratulate our members at Whyalla and Port Augusta hospitals who have worked tirelessly to bring about action on safety. Your vigilance and dedication is to be applauded,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“Everyone has the right to a safe working environment but unfortunately this is not the case for nurses and health care staff throughout the state.
“Given the unpredictable and volatile nature of many people presenting to our hospital system, often afflicted by drugs, alcohol or psychosis, the threat to staff and other patients is ever-present.

“The introduction of 24/7 on-site security will come as a great, overdue relief to nurses at Whyalla and Port Augusta and will hopefully assist them to provide the best possible care that they always strive for, by minimising the stress and anxiety that comes with potential exposure to violence.

“Nobody should have to go to work looking over their shoulder,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“We can only hope this sets a precedent, that 24/7 on-site security will be mandated in all hospital settings across the state.’’