Lismore Base Hospital in Lismore.
Lismore Base Hospital in Lismore.

'DISTRESSING': Three assaults in nine days in emergency dept

UPDATE 2.50pm:  NORTHERN NSW Local Health District boss Wayne Jones said Sunday's assault on two staff members in the emergency department of Lismore Base Hospital was distressing.

Mr Jones said the incident, in which a female nurse was hit in the head and a male wardsman bitten in the face, had been reported to police and forecast improvements in the emergency department to combat such behaviour.

"Our staff do their best to provide professional and compassionate treatment to all patients, and the incident at Lismore Base Hospital on August 23 that was reported to police, is distressing. We are continuing to support the two staff members affected," he said.

"A quality improvement project to improve the patient experience and safety of care in our ED is already underway.

"This will include a number of aspects, such as reviewing the ED assessment area, strategies to reduce seclusion and restraint, trauma-informed care training for ED staff, and additional measures to improve our triage capabilities.

Further in-house de-escalation training for staff will also take place, above the mandated requirements.

Across NSW, $19 million has been invested to improve security in emergency departments at public hospitals. A further $5 million has been invested on duress alarms for staff in emergency departments."

Mr Jones said the NSW Government was also rolling out a ground breaking program called PACER. (Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response) This program allows mental health clinicians to be based at a police station so when an emergency call comes in then the clinician attends with the police on scene.

"They are there to provide expertise and de-escalate, assess, triage then refer to appropriate services. It's the mental health clinician who makes the call as to what the next best step is, whether it be that the person does need to go to emergency, or they may be able to have follow up care at home," he said.

Already running in a number of metro locations, Northern NSW LHD is adapting this innovative model through a co-design process with NSW Police and NSW Ambulance services to work as a virtual mental health service which will be tailored to meet the needs of the region.



Original story: A NURSE was allegedly hit in the head, nearly bitten and had a female patient wrap her legs around her in another frightening assault at Lismore Base Hospital on Sunday.

A few hours later, the same aggressive patient is alleged to have bitten a male wardsman in the face.

It brings the total number of assaults at the hospital to three in the space of nine days.

On August 15, a female nurse was allegedly punched in the face by a patient, 37, in the emergency department, suffering severe bruising and pain.

The source who reported Sunday's alleged assaults said it had taken place in the emergency department in full view of children, the elderly and other patients.

It's led to calls for security to be beefed up in the emergency department with a full-time guard on call.

The alleged assaults on Sunday have been reported to police.

Earlier this week, Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones, chief executive said the organisation had "a zero tolerance approach to violence and aggression in our facilities".

He said the hospital had "robust security measures and strict policies in place to protect staff, patients and visitors and respond to any aggressive behaviour."

Mr Jones said across NSW, $19 million has been invested to improve security in emergency departments at public hospitals.

"A further $5 million has been invested on duress alarms for staff in emergency departments," he said.

"At Lismore Base Hospital this includes an additional health and security assistant in the emergency department overnight and ongoing training to prepare staff for violent or aggressive behaviour."

Richmond Police District Acting Inspector Anthony Smith said of the August 15 incident the alleged assailant was brought into the Lismore Base Hospital emergency department via ambulance.