Friday, October 22, 2010


Well may these nurses protest but they are several years too late, and so is the union. The decision made to mainstream mental health clients into the general hospital system was made by NSW Health knowing that there was a desperate shortage of registered nurses who were specialised in the care of the mentally ill and knowing that their facilities were not the best for the numbers of clients that were going to be processed through them. It appears that this nurse was working alone at night in contravention of NSW Health Policy. If we are ever to have enough nurses working in mental health services we need immediate action to address the very low numbers of nurses choosing mental health as their specialty. Why not build on the success midwifery has had with its direct entry bachelor's degree and have a direct entry mental health degree?

Jenny Haines

Nurses protest over bashing

Kate Benson

October 22, 2010, SMH

NURSES are considering taking legal action against the Health Department after a staff member was bashed by a psychiatric patient.

Nurses at Blacktown Hospital will hold a rally to demand the psychiatric emergency care centre be closed because it is inadequately staffed and its design makes it difficult for staff to escape dangerous confrontations.

They say the hospital's 34-bed mental health unit, where the emergency care centre is located, has 10 fewer nurses than it needs to be safe.

Advertisement: Story continues below ''By any decent standard this unit is understaffed and now a nurse on her own has been brutally assaulted, by a seriously ill patient, in a staff room from which she had no alternative escape route once trapped inside the one-door room,'' the general secretary of the NSW Nurses Association, Brett Holmes, said.

The assault on the nurse, who did not want to be named, happened two weeks ago after a patient asked to use the phone at 4am. She was dragged from behind the desk, punched and kicked in the head, face and ribs. She is on stress leave and is not expected to return to work until next year.

The union organiser for the area, Michael Whaites, said a doctor had also been seriously assaulted at the centre two years ago. ''There's no second exit point. The staff do carry duress alarms but management is now looking at whether that's appropriate.''

He said the union was deciding if it should prosecute the Health Department for putting staff in danger, but was concerned that once the unit was closed, NSW Health would withdraw funding for several nurses, which would cause bigger problems. The protest rally will be held on Wednesday.