Security guards meet over Dandenong Hospital violence

SECURITY guards at Dandenong Hospital are meeting tomorrow over the summary dismissal of a colleague after one of a series of violent incidents in the emergency department.
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Health Services Union state industrial officer Nathan Murphy said the incident was sparked by a patient punching a doctor’s face in the emergency department last month.

A guard ‘‘restrained the patient and was able to get the situation under control,’’ Mr Murphy said.

‘‘Later he was called into the office and received a summary dismissal without being given an opportunity to speak up for himself.

‘‘[Monash Health] are putting in policies that are making it more difficult for security to do its job.’’

Guards at Clayton and Dandenong hospitals are also concerned about long-running health and safety issues raised in a 2011 state inquiry , Mr Murphy said.

Their concerns mirror those of nurses who threatened to strike tomorrow over safety fears.

After talks with Monash Health this morning, Australian Nursing Federation state assistant secretary Paul Gilbert said tomorrow’s strike action would be called off if Monash Health ‘‘confirmed in writing’’ a set of agreed security measures.

Australian Nursing Federation members had demanded increased security, including for two dedicated security guards 24 hours a day at the emergency department and for clear protocols for dealing with unarmed and armed aggression against nurses.

‘‘We put three things to them and if what they confirm in writing what was spoken about in the meeting, the stop-work will not proceed.’’

A Monash Health spokeswoman said managers were ‘‘progressively implementing’’ recommendations from the 2011 state inquiry.

She said Dandenong Hospital was ‘‘in the process of working with staff’’ to introduce a Code Grey protocol — dealing with violent, unarmed people — by mid-year.

‘‘Dandenong Hospital is committed to a compressive approach to security with the implementation of even more CCTV and security personnel.

‘‘Monash Health looks forward to working with staff and stakeholders to ensure an even safer workplace environment is achieved.’’

It comes after a series of violent incidents at the emergency department including its waiting area being evacuated when a man threw concrete through the windows on Sunday. In recent months, a nurse was demoted for tackling an aggressive intruder, a nurse had part of her breast bitten off and another was threatened by a knife.

At the inquiry, a Dandenong Hospital emergency nurse submitted that her and colleagues were bitten, punched, slapped and had objects thrown at them by patients: “They pull their IVs out and throw bloodstained cannulas, sharps — any kind of weapon they can get their hands on, such as chairs — at the nursing staff.”

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