Emergency doctors call for 24/7 security staff

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 08, 2023 |


Emergency doctors are calling for appropriately trained security staff to be posted 24-hours a day in every ED throughout the country.

The doctors from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) have determined solutions for the issues in the health system that lead to long, dangerous waits for care, staff burnout and rising levels of aggression and violence in EDs.

ACEM Aotearoa New Zealand Chair, Dr Kate Allan said, “Emergency departments and staff have always been there 24/7 for all people who need acute care. But they are under unprecedented pressure and need Aotearoa’s help to keep providing vital care.”

“Violence in emergency departments is increasing. All people must be safe to receive, deliver and support care in emergency departments, and violence or aggression cannot be accepted. 24/7 security staff posted at every ED, integrated and appropriately trained to best support staff, patients, whānau and visitors, can free up medical staff to focus on delivering crucial care.

In the year from May 2022 – April 2023, there were 194 cases of reported incidents of aggression or violence towards staff at Waitaha Canterbury. These range from verbal threats through to physical and sexual assault.

Te Whatu Ora’s chief people officer Andrew Slater said, “We acknowledge there has been an increase in reported incidents in the last 12 months. There are several reasons for this including the fact that we have better reporting systems and staff are encouraged to report all incidents of verbal or physical aggression.”

“While not every reported instance will meet the threshold to be considered unsafe, early reporting helps us address pressures before they become more serious. These reports also help us build a more reliable picture over time of where we are seeing more reports of threats or violence towards staff – which means we can respond accordingly as one system,” Slater said.

“We are currently reviewing our security requirements, particularly in relation to our emergency departments. Our aim is to provide staff, patients and visitors with specialist healthcare security resource to keep people safe from violence and aggression, including 24/7 where required,” he said.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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