Middlemore nurses arm themselves with security alarms as violence surges

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Assaults against emergency department staff at Middlemore Hospital have increased, forcing nurses to don personal alarms to keep themselves safe.

The hospital's staff are now being trained in de-escalation techniques, NZME reports. They will be alerted by police when patients have a history of mental illness and could be aggressive.

The security measures come after a report on violence in the hospital's emergency department revealed that the number of calls to security had increased from 31 in December 2016, to 65 at the same time in 2017.

The alarms nurses are now wearing come attached to a keychain with a pin that can be pulled to activate an alarm. One Middlemore nurse told NZME she has already used the alarm, adding that violence and aggression go unreported almost every day.

'It can be a horrible environment," the nurse told NZME.

The report on the hospital's emergency department says the number of violent incidents raised by staff increased from 30 in 2016 to 85 in 2017.

Nurses have been kicked, spat at, received head injuries, bruises and even broken arms, New Zealand Nursing Organisation professional nursing adviser Suzanne Rolls told Newstalk ZB.

The revelations highlight the difficulties nurses face every day.

Hospitals and clinics around the country began preparations in late June to strike this month after rejecting the Government's pay offer.

The first strike planned for July 5 has been called off after the Government made a new offer, but a second July 12 strike remains on the cards as nurses vote on the new offer by the District Health Boards (DHBs).

The new offer reshuffles $38 million in funding to alleviate staff shortages from July 1, with each DHB receiving funding for staffing at hospitals and in the community. It also includes a commitment to implementing pay equity by December 31, 2019.

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