Assaulted Nurse raises questions

THE COURT appearance of a Lismore drug addict charged with assaulting a nurse, as reported in yesterday’s Northern Star, has raised questions concerning the safety of nurses.

John Hanstock, 42, pleaded guilty in Lismore Local Court to assaulting a nurse at Ozanam Village aged care facility in Lismore last year.

In deferring the matter, pending psychological assessment, Magistrate Robyn Denes said that nurses were in a high-risk profession and the dangers they face should be acknowledged.

NSW Nurses Association OH&S Co-ordinator, Trish Butrej said any assault on a nurse under any circumstances was appalling and should never be tolerated.

According to facts put to the court, Hanstock was arguing aggressively with his elderly mother when the nurse intervened.

He verbally abused the nurse before spitting in her face and eyes.

Hanstock’s lawyer admitted it would have been a terrifying experience for the nurse and that her client’s mother only survived a few weeks after the incident.

Ms Butrej said that nurses’ personal safety and security was the single biggest reason for OH&S inquiries to the union and that serious work was needed across the State.

“Nurses are not going to be able to provide safe patient care if they are concerned for their own safety,” she said.

The union is currently in the process of sending out a survey to emergency department nurses to find out if their workplace security is up to scratch.

“The current funding situation means a lot of old facilities haven’t been adequately upgraded,” she said. “Front-line ED nurses are dealing with more and more mental health and drug and alcohol presentations in their most acute phase.

“We think the Government should provide more training for the handling of aggressive patients and people and invest more capital funding into hospitals specifically for nurses’ and patients’ security.”

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