Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (June 2015)
The British Columbia Ministry of Health (MOH) has begun developing an action plan to address on-the-job violence against healthcare professionals, following a summit with unions and other industry stakeholders on April 7, 2015.
The Summit to Prevent Workplace Violence in Healthcare, which took place in Richmond, brought together the province’s Health Minister Terry Lake, the Health Sciences Association of British Columbia (HSA), the British Columbia Nurses’ Union (BCNU) and others to discuss acts of violence by patients against nurses and other healthcare workers.
“Everyone really appreciated the opportunity to address the issue and come together,” MOH public-affairs officer Nicole Beneteau says. She adds that the ministry has committed to developing an action plan, slated to be completed by early summer. “It will take into consideration all of the discussions that went on at the summit from the variety of stakeholders and use that as a guide to develop some solutions.”
Lake initiated the summit in response to a public call for action by HSA Pres. Val Avery, who had requested a meeting among key healthcare-sector stakeholders in the province in a statement issued last December.
“Today, we made a good start towards working in a coordinated way to improve how we prevent violence in healthcare settings,” Avery says in a statement following the summit. “I thank Minister Lake for taking up my call to action and inviting a wide range of healthcare workers, management and specialist to exchange frank ideas.”
Gayle Duteil, president of the BCNU, reports that nurses are still facing the threat of violence every day. She adds that the union has been involved in intense negotiations with the MOH lately, “and we are encouraged by the government’s commitment to making nurses’ worksites safer.” These negotiations involve making proposals to the Ministry for an action plan.
“It is my understanding that they are going to consider or going to work collaboratively to implement some of our thoughts regarding more safety officers, better alarm systems including personal alarms, regular and ongoing and supportive training and violence prevention and staffing levels that don’t put nurses in danger,” Duteil says.
The MOH recognizes that violence against healthcare professionals has recently become an issue of high concern. “In the last year, there have been some more high-profile cases that have come up,” Beneteau notes. On March 1, 2015 an agitated patient attacked the nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. In another incident, a Penticton psychiatrist was beaten severely by a client in late 2014.
“There is certainly an increasing, escalating violence in the society,” Duteil says, “and it is filtering into the hospitals. We can’t let it continue.’
Our society has changed from one of tolerance and respect to one of personal ONLY rights and this lack of respect for healthcare workers will continue to increase until attitudes have been corrected.
Look what is happening in the United States. There is no respect for individual rights and the extreme right is violently opposed to the extreme left and those of us in the middle are targets from both sides. The lack of respect for people of colour is very disappointing and I would think we would have moved beyond that mentality by now.
Let’s put respect back into the conservation and make it a priority before it cannot be turned around.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.