New standards for Victorian hospitals' response to violence

All Victorian hospitals have to follow new standards on responding to incidents of violence and aggression. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
All Victorian hospitals have to follow new standards on responding to incidents of violence and aggression. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

New standards will govern how Victorian hospitals respond to violence and aggression, with up to 95 per cent of healthcare workers experiencing verbal or physical assault in the workplace.

The new ‘code grey’ guidelines include minimum requirements for measures all hospitals must have in place to prepare for and respond to acts and threats of violence, as well as how they must evaluate such responses.

They also specify staff training for dealing with such situations, and approaches to handling diffficult or aggressive people.

Bendigo Health’s executive director of people and culture, and chairwoman of its occupational violence and safety committee, Andrea Noonan, said the organisation had a “very extensive” code grey policy in place.

Ms Noonan said Bendigo Health was reviewing code grey responses and staff training following the delivery of a summary framework from the Department of Health a couple of months ago, and expected there might need to be minor amendments.

The new hospital had also been designed with safety in mind, she said with its extensive surveillance system and increased security presence which had improved security.

But Ms Noonan said it was the responsibility of the community as a whole to ensure healthcare workers were safe on the job.

Bendigo Health staff frequently experience verbal and physical abuse.

“These people are health workers just doing their jobs – they should be treated appropriately,” Ms Noonan said.

The new Victorian standards were developed following a review and the state government said they were a first in Australia.

It was already mandatory for Victorian hospitals to have a code grey policy in place, but there were no statewide standards.

The state government says the standards will reduce the risk of injury for workers, patients and visitors, minimise exposure to violence and empower hospital staff to call a code grey response when they feel at risk.