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Victorian hospitals slam govt plans for armed guards in EDs

Armed security officers in emergency departments could incite not minimise risk of violence, parliamentary inquiry told.

Two of Melbourne's biggest hospitals have rejected Victorian government plans to have armed officers in emergency departments.

Security and nursing directors at St Vincent's Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital said the officers would disrupt their internal security procedures and the presence of guns could actually incite violence.

The Baillieu government made a pre-election promise to introduce protective services officers in the state's emergency wards, in an effort to limit disgruntled patients lashing out at staff.

But the security manager at St Vincent's, Paul Cunningham, told a parliamentary inquiry that the presence of armed guards could have caused several violent incidents at the hospital to spiral out of control.

"A firearm is definitely a no-no," Cunningham said.

"I could never see when would be the right time to pull out a firearm and actually brandish it to (a patient)."

"We've had incidents that could have gone horribly wrong ... it just doesn't work when you're trying to work within the guidelines of healthcare."

The director of nursing at Royal Melbourne Hospital, Denise Heinjus, told the inquiry there was no evidence to suggest armed guards would lower the risk of violence.

"In fact it could make an adverse reaction," Heinjus said.

Prof Heinjus said the Royal Melbourne employs four of its own security guards who have earned the trust of the clinicians.

The inquiry, held by state parliament's drugs and crime prevention committee, was ordered by Ryan after criticism of the $21 million promise to station protective services officers in hospitals.

Emergency department nurses at the Royal Children's Hospital and Dandenong Hospital last month told the inquiry that armed guards would not lower violence rates.


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