Joondalup Health Campus responds to mental health unit concerns


Two former Joondalup Health Campus nurses have faced disciplinary action in the past 18 months. Picture: file image
Two former Joondalup Health Campus nurses have faced disciplinary action in the past 18 months. Picture: file image

JOONDALUP Health Campus has addressed concerns around its mental health unit with two of its former nurses having faced State Administrative Tribunal hearings in the last 18 months for misconduct.

It should be emphasised that while the hearings took place in March last year and July this year, the incidents themselves happened in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

In the most recent hearing last week, former registered nurse Brian Roha Smith admitted to the tribunal he had “behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct” in an April 2, 2014 incident where he held an aggressive mental health patient (29) in a choker hold and pressed a finger into his eye.

In a March, 2015 hearing, the tribunal found former mental health nurse Timothy John Brian Buckby had sexually exploited two patients in 2012.

Buckby, who denied the allegations, was banned from the nursing profession for seven years.

Police investigated the matter, but did not lay charges.

Joondalup Health Campus (JHC) deputy chief executive Amanda Ling described the measures the hospital had taken since the two matters.

“Since both of these cases, the hospital has formalised its training procedures and provides an accredited training program for all staff dealing with difficult and aggressive patients,” she said.

“The hospital continues to conduct police checks, working with children checks, nursing registration checks and extensive reference checks prior to offering employment.

“We are committed to taking swift and appropriate action to protect the safety of both staff and patients at all times.”

A tribunal statement, relating to last week’s hearing, said Smith and the patient were involved in a physical altercation after the patient had been yelling abuse at staff.

It said the patient punched Smith several times and pulled his hair, while Smith held his arm around his neck.

“During this time, nursing staff instructed the respondent (Smith) to ‘let go’ or words to that effect,” the statement said.

“The respondent released the patient, following which he placed his hand on the patient’s throat and stood up by placing pressure on that area of the patient to push himself up.”

Smith, who was treated for injuries in the emergency department, resigned from JHC eight days later.

He had reportedly been a mental health nurse for 30 years.

Dr Ling said the hospital took the assault “extremely seriously”.

“The hospital reported Mr Smith to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, the governing body that manages investigations into the professional conduct of registered health practitioners – and we conducted our own internal investigation,” she said.

“The State Administrative Tribunal ruled that Mr Smith should be reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration as a health practitioner for a period of 12 months.

“Mr Smith’s behaviour was totally unacceptable and he is no longer employed by Joondalup Health Campus.”

Dr Ling confirmed the patient was treated for injuries and Smith was offered counselling.

She said police were not called to assist in the situation but became involved later.

No charges were laid.