Security guards at two west Melbourne hospitals will be fitted with stab-proof vests and tiny cameras in a bid to better protect doctors and nurses from patient aggression.
The Victoria Government has launched the first stage of its $20 million violence prevention program that aims to protect hospital staff from violence at work.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy says violence and aggression against staff who come to care for the sick is unacceptable, and often spikes during the Christmas and New Year period.
“When it comes to the Christmas holidays and New Year’s Eve, there is a spike in alcohol-related incidents, drug-related incidents and of course dealing with some of our challenging mental health patients,” she told reporters on Monday.
The Sunshine and Footscray Hospitals have asked for the stab-proof vests following an incident where neurosurgeon Michael Wong was stabbed and slashed in the face, neck, chest, hands, arms, torso, stomach by a mentally ill patient in February last year.
Other hospitals have applied to receive duress alarms for doctors who do home visits, as well as more CCTV cameras and separate emergency wards for violent or drug-affected patients.
Acting Chief Executive of Western Health Russell Harrison said the highly-visible vests and cameras deterred violence because they were visually confronting.
“Security are first respondents and rush to protect staff in danger, so the vests being so visible are a deterrent,” he told reporters on Monday.
“I think it’s a sad indictment on where we are in society when we talk about the level of violence against hospital staff who provide care,” he said.