Bendigo AU July 16 2017 Bendigo Health will be reviewing how it deals with escalating threats of violence just six months after its new hospital building officially opened.
New figures put the number of police attendances at the hospital at more than 100, according to emergency phone operator data, since the new multi-million dollar building opened earlier this year.
The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) said in the first half of this year there were more than 119 police events recorded at the Bendigo hospital.
This data, however, does not include all police activity, nor represents a range of categories including violent incidents, routine administration and welfare checks.
Although the figures do not directly correlate and by way of comparison, the Royal Melbourne Hospital has an average of 10 'code blacks' per year — triggered when a weapon is involved.
Staff have said Bendigo Health's 'code grey' system, which allows staff to curb violence, needs to be updated to better manage young people posing a risk.
More security guards have been placed at the site compared to the old hospital, but threats continue to be reported.
The review hopes to improve how to manage threats to staff, as well as its code black response.
There has been a lot of attention on hospital security since the attack on a neurosurgeon at Footscray in 2014 and the recent death of a surgeon who was working at Box Hill.
Bendigo Health's people and culture executive director Andrea Noonan said code greys are called regularly and the clinical team is forced to deal with first response.
"We have seen a rise in code grey events that involve patients' families and friends, carers, so you know we're needing to turn our thinking to how we address those particular issues as well," she said.
Last month, the Victorian Government invested more money for purpose-built rooms to manage aggressive patients at Melbourne hospitals and at the Warrnambool Base Hospital in south-west Victoria.
"What we have seen in the new facility is the infrastructure — the cameras, the surveillance, and there is a much greater security presence," Ms Noonan said.
"We have significantly more guards here than we had previously and I think evidence and research shows just that physical presence of a guard in the facility reduces incidents of violence and aggression."
Ms Noonan said code greys can involve restraining the violent person to keep everyone safe.
"It is the unpredictable nature of people that we're interacting with there," she said.
"They're feeling anxious and frightened in some cases, so it's dealing with those things."
Bendigo Police said they try to consider less restrictive options in these situations.
"In a hospital setting, police assistance with restraint can be requested by a clinician in circumstances where there is a genuine and immediate risk of self-harm or injury to anyone," Inspector Shane Brundell said.
Other factors police will consider before using restraint is the level of aggression, whether the person is armed, and if they have made a threat.
The Rural Doctors Association has also highlighted the risks medical practitioners face at country clinics.
Echuca GP Sue Harrison, based in northern Victoria, said general practices in regional areas face their own challenges.
"There's quite a lot of threat involved. Often people (are) without the level of support and security that you might have in a bigger hospital," she said.
Dr Harrison, who has also worked at times in the Echuca Hospital's emergency department, said having locked doors and swipe keys may be less likely at GP clinics.
"You might only have one or two doctors and a staff member in the practice," she said.
She has emphasised there is often a lack of respect from patients.
"People are angry if they don't get their own way in regard to what their request is from the doctor, and often that is around the prescription of particular medication," she said.
"Often times it's just that people aren't happy with the advice that they've been given."
Victoria Police is involved in what is known as the Mental Health and Police response initiative (MHaP), which Inspector Shane Brundell said commits police to maintaining safety.
In it, they work with mental health clinics and consider the medical advice of health practitioners.
"MHaP delivers a targeted and timely joint response from police and mental health services for people needing urgent mental health support in the community," he said.
"This initiative helps reduce pressure on police, ambulance and emergency department resources.
"It also delivers more responsive and appropriate crisis intervention to individuals by providing on-the-spot assessments."