Body-worn cameras to curb violence in hospital

Friday, 13 April, 2018

Body-worn cameras to curb violence in hospital

Body-worn cameras have been introduced at Townsville Hospital to improve safety for health workers.

The cameras are designed to send a clear message of zero tolerance to those who abuse or attack staff at the hospital.

“If you punch, bite or spit on the people who are trying to care for you or your family, you will be filmed and that footage will be given to the police to prosecute offenders,” said Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Communities, Minister for Disability Services and Seniors and Member for Mundingburra.

“Enough is enough and today the Townsville Hospital is drawing a line in the sand against this sort of unacceptable behaviour.”

Townsville HHS has purchased 15 cameras at a cost of just over $20,000. Body-worn cameras will only be activated during an aggressive or violent incident. In 2017, there were 687 occupational violence incidents across the Townsville HHS, up from 562 cases in 2016.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service Board Chair Tony Mooney said he had seen the sorts of violence staff and patients had been exposed to.

“I’ve seen a patient brandishing a flag as a weapon, fights in the emergency department and objects thrown at staff,” he said.

“Just a couple of weeks ago, within the space of a couple of hours, a nurse was allegedly bitten by a patient and a security officer was allegedly punched in the face. This sort of behaviour is clearly not acceptable and the Townsville Hospital and Health Board will do everything within its power to protect our staff and patients from these sorts of appalling incidents.”

Member for Thuringowa and Chair of the Health, Communities, Disability Service and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee Aaron Harper said the cameras were designed to deter and de-escalate violent incidents.

Harper said he knew from his own experience working as a former paramedic and former medical orderly at Townsville Hospital that healthcare workers could be easy targets.

“We need to educate and remind people that violence against anyone — whether they are a frontline officer or a member of the public — is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Health security officers at Townsville Hospital have just completed training using the new body-worn cameras.

Townsville Hospital emergency department deputy director Doctor Natalie Ly said violence against staff was something that many staff took home with them.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service health security officer Steve Byrne.

“It is an essential part of the healthcare relationship that our staff are free to help people without fearing for their own safety,” she said.

“Doctors and nurses in emergency medicine are as tough and resilient as people come, because you have to be to do this job.

“In saying that, the acts of abuse and violence my colleagues and I have experienced over the years are completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, they can be deeply affecting and stay with us long after our shift ends.”

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