The Park Centre for Mental Health at Goodna.
The Park Centre for Mental Health at Goodna. Rob Williams

Nurses allege 200 assaults

A PATIENT at an Ipswich mental health facility is alleged to have attacked staff 200 times – with claims most of the assaults were never reported.

The revelation comes after a psychiatric nurse at The Park mental health facility at Goodna required facial surgery after her cheekbone and eye socket were smashed in an escape attempt by a violent offender in October.

The secure facility houses patients with severe mental illnesses, many of whom were detained after committing violent offences.

Opposition Health Minister Mark McArdle said 74 attacks were reported to Queensland Health in the year up to June 2009, but he said many more went unreported.

He warned a member of staff may be killed before action is taken to improve their safety.

“These figures relate to only reported incidents - the actual number of assaults is much higher. Staff have said that one violent inmate had been involved in 200 assaults,” he said.

“From what they tell me, the actual number of attacks would be about three to four times bigger than what’s being reported, because due to the lack of action by Queensland Health, staff have simply given up reporting the incidents.

“Faulty doors, insufficient lighting and other infrastructure problems should be fixed immediately — this is simply not good enough.”

“Will it take the death of a nurse to spur this government into taking action to give nurses the safe and secure working environment they have a right to?”

Mr McArdle claimed security doors, cameras and other safety measures at the centre were not functioning properly and that nurses had to escort dangerous patients to Mental Health tribunals by themselves.

Queensland Health’s district chief executive officer, Pam Lane, said the health service was doing all it could to ensure the safety of the facility’s staff.

“It is inevitable that in dealing with such complex patients, some incidents of violence will occur,” she said.

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