Bunbury Hospital to receive security boost

Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.

Bunbury Regional Hospital will receive funding for more security staff and surveillance as part of a state-wide initiative to tackle violent assaults in WA hospitals.

The state government announced the $11.23 million commitment to reduce violence in public hospitals on Tuesday, October 29.

The WA Country Health Service has been tasked with allocating $4.97 million of the funding among the state's regional hospitals, which includes full-time security staff, CCTV and lighting upgrades for Bunbury.

Staff will also undertake an education and training program for dealing with aggressive patients, which will be rolled out across WA.

The service implemented a state-wide Preventing and Managing Occupational Violence Strategy 2019-2023 earlier this year, aimed at addressing the increase in incidences of violence towards staff.

It is understood that Bunbury Regional Hospital went from one code-black activation in 2015 to 10 in 2017. That number increased to 18 in 2018.

A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman said that while there had not been an increase in year-on-year code black instances in Bunbury between 2018 and 2019, the WA Country Health Service considered one instance of violence and aggression against its staff to be one too many.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said the funding recognised the increase in incidents and the right of hospital staff to work in a safe environment.

"Bunbury Regional Hospital has had a fairly modest number of code blacks, where the alarm goes off for urgent assistance," he said.

"We do know that it is a busy emergency department and it is an emergency department that does have people coming in that are affected by alcohol or may have drug-related issues.

"The state government has also made available $23 million to help improve the flow of people through emergency department.

"Enhancing security through CCTV and security personnel is actually a very good way of managing abusive behaviour, but improving the flow means people are less frustrated and less stressed by the whole experience.

"What we do know is that, fundamentally, staff have a right to work in a safe environment."

Health Minister Roger Cook said violence towards hospital staff was intolerable and staff deserved more respect and should be able to get on with their job without the threat of violence.