Werribee Mercy Hospital will share in a $40 million state government funding package designed to improve the safety of staff and patients.

The government has announced the funding for hospitals across the state, with improvements to include installation of behavioural assessment rooms in emergency departments.

Behavioural assessment rooms are provided so staff can better assess and manage patients who present to emergency departments and who may place themselves, staff or others at risk of harm.

Mercy Hospital already has one such room, but has requested $28,000 from the government, to relocate the room closer to the emergency department’s ambulance and police entrance.

Mercy Health’s chief executive of health services, Adjunct Professor Linda Mellors, said the hospital welcomed the government’s funding announcement.

“Patient and staff safety are our top priorities,” she said.

“Earlier this year, Mercy Health received funding from the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund to reconfigure the triage area and security office within the Werribee Mercy Hospital ED to improve staff and security visibility into the waiting area.

“We plan to relocate and enhance the behavioural assessment room at the same time as completing the triage works later this year.”

Adjunct Professor Mellors said that last year, the hospital also received funding from the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund to enhance security around its outpatient clinics’ building.

“These completed works included the installation of CCTV cameras and linking the building’s speaker system with the main hospitals,” she said.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe at work. Too often our ED staff are physically or verbally threatened by patients and visitors when they are just trying to do their job.

“Abusing our staff in any form is never okay.”

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the $40 million funding package would send a clear message that violence and threats against hospital workers would not be tolerated.

“We’re doing everything we can to support those who care for and save the lives of Victorians,” she said.

Werribee MP Tim Pallas said healthcare workers everywhere, including at Werribee Mercy Hospital, deserved to be safe at work.

“That’s why we will continue to roll out initiatives to promote the safety and wellbeing of our health workers and paramedics – those who take such great care of our community,” he said.


 By Alesha Capone and Ewen McRae