Adelaide hospital security questioned after more than 8,000 violent incidents reported in financial year

A proposal to downscale the emergency departments of three Adelaide hospitals could increase the problem of violence against staff, a South Australian MP has warned.

There were more than 8,000 "code black" incidents with aggressive patients at the metropolitan hospitals last financial year, an 11 per cent increase on the previous year, according to figures obtained by Family First under freedom of information (FOI).

Hospital staff call a code black when they feel unsafe or want help to deal with violent or aggressive patients.

Family First MP Robert Brokenshire said health spending for security at South Australian hospitals had escalated to $56 million over the past five years.

Mr Brokenshire said he was concerned the problem would escalate under the Government's Transforming Health Plan.

It was released by Health Minister Jack Snelling last month and would see the downscaling of emergency departments at Noarlunga, Modbury and the Queen Elizabeth hospitals, and housing a super emergency department at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

It would cater for multiple traumas, with senior staff available around the clock, and similar departments would be built at Flinders Medical Centre and the Lyell McEwin Hospital.

"Diverting resources from places like Modbury and the Queen Elizabeth whose emergency departments are slated for downgrading, or from Noarlunga Hospital which looks to lose its emergency department, is not going to help and there are no drug policies or better staffing scenarios in the plan," Mr Brokenshire said.

"What for goodness sake is going to happen at Flinders when there's more ramping, there's more delays and more people going through?

"We will be talking something like 90,000 people a year going through the Flinders Medical Centre emergency department, what's that going to do to security and the problems we're having with escalating code black?"

Safety in no way reduced, Minister says

Mr Snelling said the Government's major shake up of the health system would in no way reduce safety in Adelaide's hospitals.

"The patients that will increase would be those with life-threatening conditions and it's not these patients that could cause these acts of violence," Mr Snelling said.

"If you're in a stretcher at death's door, it's pretty unlikely that you're going to be in a condition where you can commit an act of violence against a doctor or a nurse."

Mr Snelling said Government reforms could not be blamed for the actions of violent patients.

"We've massively increased the penalties for acts of violence against our emergency workers, including our doctors and nurses," Mr Snelling said.

"But at the end of the day there is such a thing as personal responsibility and people do need to take responsibility for their own actions, there's only so much the Government can do."