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    2019 - 01.21

    RELATED:Crime statistics show Bendigo’s drug burden
    Nanjing Night Net

    FRONTLINE health workers arefacing violence and aggression from ice-affected patients at the region’s health services.

    There were nine reports of violent or aggressive behaviour exhibited towards health workers and security staff at psychiatric treatment facilitythe Alexander Bayne Centrein February.

    Bendigo Health acting director of nursing psychiatric servicesTim Lenten said there was a sharp rise in the severity of incidents that month.

    “There has been a range of physical injuries that have resulted in time off for nurses and security,” he said.

    “It has had an impact on sick leave which we then have to backfill to cover shifts.”

    MrLenten said about 60 per cent of patients to the Alexander Bayne Centre were affected by drugs or alcohol.

    “Patients with substance disorders and addiction or are intoxicated would account for about 25 per cent and those who have substance disorders which coincides with mental illness would be at least another 33 per cent,” he said.

    Staff involved in violent incidents were offered graduated returns to work as well as counselling to ensure they felt safe working in their units, he said.

    “We take itseriously and we’re reviewing our policies to better address aggressive incidents and serve our patients as well,” Mr Lenten said.

    He stressed that most patients to the centre were calm and respectful of staff.

    Ambulance Victoria Loddon group manager Ross Barkla said paramedics also encountered violence and aggression from ice-affected patients.

    “The drug ice is like no other in the way that it can quickly send people out of control.There is a high potential for people affected by ice to be aggressive and violent towards those trying to help them,” he said.

    Mr Barkla said the number of assaults and violence towards paramedics were “unacceptable”.Ambulance Victoria reported there were 314 incidents in 2013/2014.

    “No paramedic in the Bendigo area, or, in fact, anywhere in Victoria, comes to work expecting to be harmed,” Mr Barkla said.

    He gave his approval tothe Victorian government’s newice action plan.

    “Paramedics regularly see both the direct and indirect the impacts of ice in regional communities like Bendigo and we welcome the government plans to tackle the ice problem,” he said.

    Source: Bendigo Advertiser

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