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Shadow Health Minister calls for review of hospital security

EMERGENCY departments at Darling Downs hospitals are not equipped to deal with violent patients, according to the State's Shadow Health Minister.

Mark McArdle and Parliamentary Health Committee member Ros Bates spoke of their serious concerns during a tour of the Warwick Hospital yesterday.

Mr McArdle said hospital staff were concerned about security and violence from ice addicts and mental health patients.

"There is no seclusion room in the emergency department that means a person who is a mental health patient and very violent is not put into a separate area to make sure they're safe, the patients are safe and staff are safe," he said.

"Without having a place to place ice patients or mental health patients in you escalate the risk of serious harm or injury of patients and staff."

Under the current laws, seclusion rooms are only permitted in authorised mental health outpatient facilities.

However, the Darling Downs Health and Hospital Service is considering other options.

"The DDHHS is currently exploring the option of having designated areas in our facilities for the observation and de-escalation of violent of drug/alcohol affected-patients," a spokeswoman said.

The Shadow Health Minister is calling on Warwick residents and medical staff to lobby the State Government for changes.

Mr McArdle was critical of the State Government's Ministerial taskforce, which he described as a "talk fest".

"If you don't have a seclusion room, you're placing the lives of doctors and nurses at risk," he said.

"Doctors and nurses are not punching bags, they need protection.

"The time for talking is done, we need action."

Mr McArdle's comments come less than two weeks after a mental health patient allegedly broke into a doctor's unit and dressed in medical attire before going to Toowoomba Hospital armed with a knife.

As a registered nurse, Mrs Bates said she believed having a seclusion room is "paramount".

"To not have one in a hospital like this is a shame, it's something they need to address," she said.

"We should have adequate security guards and seclusion rooms to put patient who are danger to themselves, staff and other patients."

Staff at Warwick Hospital undergo regular violence prevention training and further training to provide security services, according to the DDHHS.

"This training focuses on the identification and de-escalation of potentially violent situations," a spokeswoman said.

"Other security measures at the hospital include 24-hour swipe card access to some parts of the hospital. After-hours, entry to the hospital is via a swipe card or visitor call button."


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