Call for security at Vic emergency depts

·2-min read

Every Victorian emergency department should have security working around the clock to protect staff from unruly patients, Australia's top emergency medicine college says.

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine on Sunday issued a list of ways to make Victorian EDs safer, including 24-hour security guards posted at every facility.

Under the proposal, made ahead of the November state election, security guards would be directly employed by each hospital and trained to protect patients and staff.

Systemic pressure on the health system, as well as complex social issues, is decreasing safety in Victorian EDs, the college said.

"Every patient, carer, healthcare worker and hospital staff member needs a safe place to receive, support and deliver urgently needed healthcare," ACEM President Dr Clare Skinner said.

"The problems in the Victorian health system are complex and will take time to address, and we urge commitment to long-term measures.

"However, there are a range of short-term solutions that can be implemented quickly to help make emergency departments, and the people who need them, safer."

Melbourne hospitals were targeted by anti-vaccination protesters last month, and emergency physician Stephen Parnis believes violence and aggression in EDs has never been higher.

"Stopping for a break during my emergency shift, when the roars and rage of the latest violent patient make their way from the ambulance bay, through about five walls, to my desk," he tweeted on Friday.

Other ACEM solutions include adding at least 1000 fully staffed ED-accessible hospital beds across Victoria over the next five years, a 20 per cent rise in full-time inpatient specialists and allied health workers in public hospitals, and an increase in non-clinical staff to complete basic tasks.

The college is urging Victorian political parties to work with it and other frontline groups ahead of the November 26 poll to address staff and resource shortfalls in Victoria's EDs and health system.

Opposition emergency services spokesman Brad Battin said he supported the idea of more security for frontline health workers in principle while pointing to coalition election pledges to build and upgrade hospitals.

"It is those beds that will relieve pressure on the current system," he told reporters.

The Victorian government has been contacted for comment.

In the lead-up to the official election campaign, the state's embattled health system has been the primary focus of Labor and the coalition after more than two years spent in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Guardian Essential poll, released on Sunday, indicates the Andrews Labor government remains on track to secure a third term despite a forecast dip in its primary vote from 43 per cent in 2018 to 35.3.