Mackay Base Hospital. Picture: Tony Martin
Mackay Base Hospital. Picture: Tony Martin

Health workers report rise in violent, aggressive patients

The region's health workers are reporting an increasing number of violent and aggressive patients seeking treatment across the district.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service workers reported 419 occurrences of occupational violence in the 2019-20 financial year, an increase of 12 on the previous year.

It represents a 2.9 per cent increase, up from 407 occurrences, MHHS chief executive Lisa Davies Jones said.

"Mackay HHS has a zero tolerance for acts of aggression against our staff or any act that makes anyone in our facilities feel unsafe," she said.

"Everyone has the right to feel safe whether they are here to work or to receive care.

"Our staff do their best to care for the community and there is no excuse for verbal or physical aggression towards our frontline healthcare workers."

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It follows police charging a 41-year-old woman for allegedly assaulting three nurses at Proserpine Hospital on Monday afternoon.

The woman was charged with serious assault after the alleged incident in which three nurses suffered various injuries. One nurse was kicked and struck in the face.

Ms Davies Jones said MHHS was encouraged to report incidents to allow the health service to "capture a more accurate picture of workplace aggression".

"The increase in reporting shows us where the hot spots are and allows us to target resources and training," she said.


Proserpine Hospital. Picture: Laura Thomas
Proserpine Hospital. Picture: Laura Thomas


"We have seen an increase in the number of staff reporting aggressive conduct, not necessarily an increase in actual physical violence.

"The increase in reportable occurrences in 2019-20 reflects the health service's emphasis on the importance of reporting."

Staff have access to a peer support program that provides compassionate, caring and confidential support, she said.

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"We have also undertaken several initiatives throughout 2019-20 to prevent occurrences of occupational violence and promote de-escalation techniques to stop our staff getting hurt," Ms Davies Jones said.

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