Attacked Toowoomba nurse revived three times

A TOOWOOMBA Hospital psychiatric nurse had to be revived three times with defibrillator paddles after he was allegedly attacked by a patient inside an acute mental health ward without 24-hour security.

The 45-year-old male nurse, who collapsed after the incident at 4.40pm Friday, is still in hospital but his condition is listed as stable.

His alleged attacker, 32, was taken to the hospital by Queensland Corrective Services staff but a QCS spokeswoman insisted: "This is a matter for Queensland Health. In the event a prisoner is admitted to hospital, custody is transferred to Queensland Health."

Police are still investigating the alleged assault and no charges have yet been laid.

The incident happened just a day after a motion was passed at the Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union annual conference calling on the union to advocate for mandatory security guards at all public acute mental health units across the state.

The motion was moved by Toowoomba Hospital delegates.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said he had requested a security guard be stationed at the Toowoomba Hospital acute mental health ward immediately while a review into the alleged attack was conducted.

"My thoughts are with this staff member and his family and friends," Mr Miles said.

"Violence against our frontline health workers is unacceptable."

A Queensland Health spokesman said an external review would be undertaken to "understand what happened, why it happened and what can be done at a local and system level to prevent a similar incidence occurring in the future".

Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union secretary Beth Mohle said the union was working closely with the department's occupational violence steering committee to improve staff safety across the state.

"There's competing duties here," Ms Mohle said. "There's a duty that Queensland Health and health practitioners have to treat people without fear or favour. But there's also a duty that an employer has to keep staff safe. We have to have clinically appropriate solutions. Security presence is one element of it."


Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union secretary Beth Mohle. Picture: Regi Varghese
Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union secretary Beth Mohle. Picture: Regi Varghese

Ms Mohle stressed that violence could happen across the healthcare sector, not just in mental health units.

"We don't want to stigmatise mental health," she said. "Violence can happen on medical and surgical wards with people who are suffering from dementia, it can happen in emergency departments with people affected by drugs, it can happen in maternity units with domestic and family violence situations."

Ms Mohle said Queensland's 16 hospital and health services had different approaches towards dealing with occupational violence.

"Some actually do have appropriate security, appropriate training, appropriate facility design," she said. "But there's inconsistency across hospital and health services. That's the main source of concern for us."