Staff safety paramount concern at Royal Perth Hospital’s new Urgent Care Clinic

$11.8 million has been allocated in the State Budget to establish a mental health observation area plus unit at Royal Perth Hospital.
$11.8 million has been allocated in the State Budget to establish a mental health observation area plus unit at Royal Perth Hospital.

THE Australian Medical Association has called for reassurances of staff safety at the new Urgent Care Clinic set to open at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) mid-year.

Omar Khorshid said more than 120 meth-affected patients were being treated each week in emergency departments in Perth and Bunbury.

“These patients are often volatile and can present a danger to themselves, staff and other patients,” Dr Khorshid said.

A spokeswoman for the East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) said the Behavioural Assessment Clinic would build on similar models currently in place in the eastern states.

It will include new and existing RPH medical and nursing staff, with support from specialists in drugs and alcohol, homeless health care and mental health, and experienced social workers.

“The safety and wellbeing of our staff is paramount,” she said.

She said the clinic builds on work done across the hospital to ensure staff safety including increased security presence, enhanced CCTV coverage, extra training for staff in the management and de-escalation of aggressive incidents, and the provision of duress alarms and intercom systems.

Department of Health figures showed Fiona Stanley Hospital’s emergency department had 535 attendances related to drugs and/or alcohol from July to September last year, but the hospital is not expected to get an urgent care clinic focussed on behavioural assessment according to Health Minister Roger Cook.

“The Labor Government is committed to introducing Urgent Care Clinics based at major hospitals and in the community to reduce pressure on busy emergency departments,” Mr Cook said.

“The Royal Perth Hospital Behavioural Assessment Urgent Care Clinic is specific to demand at RPH’s emergency department and there are no plans for such a clinic to operate in other hospitals.”

Community News understands future clinics would be tailored to individual hospital needs.

Facts

– The six-bed clinic was promised before the last State election.
– Patients will be aged 16 to 65 years.
– They will have acute behaviour disturbances through drug and alcohol intoxication and overdose.
– Relocating those patients to the separate clinic aims to improve safety in the normal ED area.
– Ongoing management of the unit will fall within the operational budget of the EMHS.
– People with drug use concerns can call the Alcohol and Drug Support Line on 9442 5000.