Nurses ‘Work In Fear’ St Giles Hospital

There is a call for more male ordelies at St Giles Hospital. This after staff at the mental health hospital in Suva fear for their safety as they work among
09 Nov 2016 11:00
Nurses ‘Work In Fear’ St Giles Hospital
St. Giles Hospital in Suva. Photo: Ronald Kumar

There is a call for more male ordelies at St Giles Hospital. This after staff at the mental health hospital in Suva fear for their safety as they work among patients, it has been revealed.

The high alert comes after a female nurse was allegedly attacked sexually by a burly male patient.

Nurses are reluctant to openly talk about the situation because they are afraid they could lose their jobs.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services did not want to comment as investigations have yet to be completed.

But a staff member, who acted as spokesperson for a group of staff, said he saw the alleged sexual attack.

He said female nurses were serving food at the wards when a patient tried to attack one of them.

He said the patient, a big man in his 30’s, went for the nurse and tried forcefully to lock her in a room.

“Fortunately, a male medical orderly was nearby who came came to the rescue of the female nurse and tried to calm the patient down. But he paid a price. He dislocated his right arm during the scuffle.

“Physical encounters with patients are common occurrence. Staff sometimes get punched, hit by a chair and other objects. On one occasion,  one of our staff was almost stabbed by a pen last year. It highlights that this a high-risk job. Patients are unpredictable because of their mental state. These incidents have been going on over the years,” said the staff.

He claimed that their concern  about the safety of all nurses and medical orderlies, had been raised with management but little or nothing had been done to resolve it. He said a punching incident was referred to the Ministry for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, but nothing happened.

“We had asked to have more male nurses and medical orderlies but our request had fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

The other issue raised by the staff was the non-payment of risk allowance since 2010.

The Fiji Nursing Association General Secretary, Salanieta Matiavi, said she had also raised concern on the issue.

“There are health workers who work in an environment where their safety and health are at risk such as in St Giles Hospital.

“They are entitled to the risk allowance, under the Mental Health Decree of 2010.”

Medical Superintendent for St Giles Hospital, Dr Kiran Gaikwad,said he was not in a position to comment on the issue.

Under the Mental Health Decree of 2010, part one, section four, sub-section (d) states that appropriate compensation and extra allowance are paid to mental health workers in positions that pose a high risk of physical assault or emotional distress in providing care and treatment to patients.

Another concern is the poor fencing facility at the hospital. This was brought to light after the escape of Avinesh Kumar Raj who is still at large and wanted by Police.

The blame for such incidents often fell on Hospital staff.

Raj had escaped from the custody of the St Giles Hospital in September after he was admitted for evaluation after he tried to harm himself.

He is wanted on charges that include alleged rapes.

Edited by Maraia Vula


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