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Thousands of Qld nurses face violent assaults

Qld hospital staff assaulted on job
Photo: Qld hospital staff assaulted on job
Thousands of workers have reported being assaulted on the job at hospitals right across Queensland.

Fractured skulls, chemical burns, death threats and post-traumatic stress.

These might seem like reasons to attend a hospital but in fact they're some of the horrors suffered at work by thousands of Queensland hospital staff - mostly nurses - who have been kicked, punched and spat on.

Queensland Health figures show 2695 workers reported abuse from patients at the Royal Brisbane & Women's, Princess Alexandra, Gold Coast and Cairns hospitals over a three-year period.

In one of the worst attacks, a nurse suffered fractures to the skull and facial bones after being king hit and punched while unconscious.

Another disturbing incident involved a patient who threatened to follow a nurse home, cut them into pieces and rape their family. They also said they would slit the nurse's throat and make their family watch.
Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) secretary Beth Mohle said alcohol, dementia and mental health issues were contributing to the assaults.

Hospitals needed to have enough staff as well as the right mix of workers who were appropriately trained for high-risk wards, like mental health, she said.

"We (also) need to be focusing on educating the community on the fact that (abusing staff) is totally unacceptable," she said.

Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said it was concerning the government had not gone public with the problem and called on Health Minister Cameron Dick to "come clean" on the extent of the issue.

He also said a 36 per cent jump in reports from the 2014 to 2015 financial years showed the QNU had failed to protect its members.

But Ms Mohle said the union had repeatedly requested a review of the issue when the LNP was in government.

The current government had agreed to establish a task force to tackle the problem, she said.

The assaults led to 251 compensation claims, most due to physical injury.

Mr Dick's office has been contacted for comment.

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