Ratepayers push safety issue

SAFETY: The Whyalla Residents and Ratepayers Association (WRRA) have written to the state government urging them to take action to ensure the safety of staff and patients at the Whyalla Hospital.
SAFETY: The Whyalla Residents and Ratepayers Association (WRRA) have written to the state government urging them to take action to ensure the safety of staff and patients at the Whyalla Hospital.

The Whyalla Residents and Ratepayers Association (WRRA) have written to the state government urging them to take action to ensure the safety of staff and patients at the Whyalla Hospital.

In a letter sent to Premier Steven Marshall, WRRA Chair Tom Antonio outlined how a lack of security at the hospital was leaving staff and the public vulnerable to attacks at the hospital.

"Our medical staff face potential abuse on a daily basis, without protection. Yes some areas have security screens, however that doesn't protect all staff, other patients and the public," he said.

"Currently when a situation arises, hospital staff call a 'Code Back' to alert SAPOL, then they wait.

"SAPOL do attend, but with police resources being stressed and the increase in crime we are facing in Whyalla incidents have occurred where staff have been vulnerable to attack for some time."

Mr Antonio said two members of the WRRA committee had served on the Whyalla Health Advisory Committee, giving the group direct knowledge of the issue which has been raised many times.

"The answer from the government and through SA Country Health was there was no money in the budget to employ such personnel," he said.

"We respectfully hope that a change in the political landscape will see a change in attitude in favour of supporting and protecting our emergency staff."

In a response Health Minister Stephen Wade said that security measures, including installing security screens around the nurses station and upgrading the hospital's portable duress alarm system, had been recently implemented at the Whyalla Hospital.

"There has been extra security training for all nursing and Client Services staff who are part of the Emergency Response team responding to Code Black alerts," he said.

"The duress capabilities have been linked back to South Australian Police who have been engaged to ensure effective response times to reduce incidents.

"There is a system in place for known aggressive and violent patients who are brought to the hospital by the SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) and a flagging system that identifies the patient to the SAAS officers who can communicate with the hospital to warn nursing staff and allow them to prepare for the patient's arrival."