INTRODUCTION: A new position will be implemented at Ipswich Hospital in an effort to maintain a safe environment for staff, patients and visitors.
INTRODUCTION: A new position will be implemented at Ipswich Hospital in an effort to maintain a safe environment for staff, patients and visitors. Cordell Richardson

New role to curb aggression at emergency department

A NEW position will be implemented at Ipswich Hospital in an effort to maintain a safe environment for staff, patients and visitors and cut out aggressive behaviour before it can escalate.

An Emergency Department Ambassador will soon be introduced at the hospital to assist waiting patients with enquiries and intervene at the earliest signs of anti-social behaviour on the ward.

This comes after the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane announced they would have more than 100 highly-trained "in-house" security guards on hand after statistics revealed violent assaults against staff had increased by more than 50 per cent last year.

West Moreton Health executive director Melinda Parcell said the position was put in place to provide a staff member for visitors to turn to, with many arriving to emergency departments in a "vulnerable state."

"Training in effective de-escalation communication skills will help the ED Ambassador respond compassionately to people's needs, which we hope will lead to a reduction in the number of incidents that escalate to aggression," she said.

"They can also readily respond to someone who may be getting frustrated about waiting for treatment by explaining the emergency triage system, which prioritises those with more urgent needs.

"The ED Ambassador role recognises the benefit of giving people ready access to a staff member who can answer questions and provide information that will make their stay more comfortable.

"That might be as simple as showing people where to find a bathroom, food and drinks, or handing out colouring-in books to help occupy children."

Last year Ipswich Hospital introduced body worn cameras for their team of 24/7 security officers as part of a trial to examine their use as a deterrent against anti-social and threatening behaviour and to provide evidence for formal investigations.

The hospital also used swipe cards to access clinical areas, maintains CCTV and has duress alarms throughout the facility as part of its security and safety strategy.

All security officers undertake high-risk occupational violence training led at West Moreton Health, alongside organisation-wide mandatory training, on-the-job training and site-specific inductions.

Ms Parcell said violence against health workers is treated seriously at health services across the state.

"We do not tolerate verbal or physical abuse or threats towards our staff, patients or visitors," she said.

"Health workers come to work each day to care for others and it is unacceptable that they be made to feel unsafe in the course of their job.

"There are prominent advertising campaigns - such as the series 'Assault isn't part of the job. It's a crime' - to curb antisocial behaviour and attacks against health and emergency workers."