Victorian hospital staff to get duress alarms after ‘unacceptable’ rise in violence

Hospital security staff will be issued with protective vests and some home visit nurses will be given personal duress alarms under a Victorian Government program to crackdown on attacks on emergency staff.

A total of $20 million will be spent on improved security at the state’s hospitals in response to an increase in attacks on medical staff, including additional closed-circuit security cameras.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said it was a “significant challenge” to protect staff from aggressive and threatening behaviour.

“It is unacceptable for people who care for people to be used as punching bags in their workplace,” she said.

“We know in the prelude to the New Year with an increase in alcohol consumption that our health workforce will be increasingly vulnerable to violence and aggression.”

Hospitals were asked to do a risk assessment and to apply for extra funds to protect their staff.

Home care workers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre will get duress alarms when they work outside the office and security officers at Western Health will get special vests to protect them from sharp injury attacks.

“It is quite a sad juncture that we’ve come to in that our health workforce have increasingly become the victims of occupational violence and aggression,” Ms Hennessy said.

“We’re investing in smaller emergency departments to better protect the waiting patients from drug and alcohol-affected people.

“The pendulum has swung too far and these initiatives are part of a broader policy agenda of the government and health system to keep our health workforce safe.”