Fear of assault versus fear of losing your job.
On Wednesday, July 1 at Taupō Hospital a known mental health patient punched a doctor in the face and assaulted two nurses.
Five days later an anonymous caller phoned the Taupō & Tūrangi Weekender saying security at the hospital needed to be improved as attendants were not able to keep staff safe at Taupō Hospital. Anonymity was required as the whistle-blower feared losing their job if their identity was revealed.
The Police media team confirmed Taupō Police were notified at 3.02pm on July 1 of an assault at the hospital. A 49-year-old man was due to appear in the Taupō District Court on Wednesday, July 8 on multiple charges including a charge of common assault. By Thursday a warrant was issued for the man's arrest for failing to appear in court.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
When asked about the policy for staff safety when a known mental health or addiction patient presents, Lakes District Health Board assistant communications officer Shan Tapsell said emergency department staff, attendants and security personnel are all trained to manage and de-escalate difficult situations.
An additional layer of protection exists at Rotorua Hospital where security guards are employed, as well as attendants. Ms Tapsell confirmed security at Taupō Hospital is provided by attendants.
"However, the DHB has found that the police have always responded very quickly to calls in the event of any issues at Taupō Hospital.
"Rotorua Hospital, as a medium-sized secondary care hospital treating large numbers of patients, has an in-house security service 24/7 with the security staff providing a range of duties across the large hospital site. Attendants assist if it is necessary and appropriate."
Ms Tapsell says Taupō Hospital has an excellent relationship with Taupō Police and says police are contacted when physical or verbal violent behaviour occurs or there is a high risk of it happening.
She said the Lakes District Health Board had a zero tolerance to abuse and violence towards staff. The board took the incident very seriously and it was under review by the DHB's quality and risk staff.
A condition report on the current status of the staff assaulted was not provided from Lakes DHB despite a request, however, the whistle-blower said the doctor had suffered a serious head injury.