The Nationals WA have questioned the McGowan Government’s commitment to dealing with rising violence and dangerous incidents in regional hospitals.
In answer to questions asked by Leader Mia Davies in Parliament this week, neither the Health Minister nor the WA Country Health Service knew how much of $5 million announced by the Minister on Sunday would be allocated for tackling violence and improving security at regional hospitals.
Ms Davies said the Minister’s response was concerning given an alarming number of incidents recorded at regional hospitals in recent years.
“Statistics collated by The Nationals WA shows an alarming number of code black incidents over the past two to three years,” she said.
“The highest number of incidents have been recorded at Kalgoorlie Health Campus, with 156 code blacks activated between 2017 and 2019.
“To put that into perspective, the level of code blacks recorded in 2015 and 2016 at the same hospital were 2 and 15 respectively, reflecting a huge jump in dangerous incidents.”
A code black emergency is activated in a hospital in response to a person threatening harm to others or themselves.
They can include violent altercations, verbal or physical aggression threats made to staff, self-harm attempts or threats and armed intruders.
Ms Davies said the Minister’s response to questions in the Parliament was unsatisfactory.
“We asked the Minister to confirm that regional hospitals would benefit from the $5 million and to provide a breakdown of the allocation and a timeline of when the funding would hit the ground,” she said.
“While he has committed to a system-wide approach to allocate the funds, I suspect $5 million across the whole State is like spreading vegemite on toast, it won’t cut it.”
Other hospitals to record high code black counts over the same period include Geraldton Hospital (43), Hedland Health Campus (22), Karratha Health Campus (24) and the South West Health Campus (29).
Nationals WA health spokesperson Martin Aldridge said the McGowan Government needed a concerted effort to bolster on-site security, surveillance and ensuring the safety of patients, staff and visitors.
“The regional health sector is buckling under existing resourcing pressures the McGowan Government has imposed in many areas including emergency departments, staffing shortages and lack of funding for palliative care services,” he said.
“The last thing our hospitals need on top of already exhausting workloads is staff facing the added threat of violence or threats erupting in their workplace and government doing nothing to combat the increase in these types of incident.”