Region's nurses fear for safety in wake of ice epidemic

DARLING Downs nurses are seeing an increase in the number of ice users reporting to hospital, prompting their union to support calls for more security funding.

Queensland Nurses Union regional organiser Auriel Robinson said ice users reported to hospital either by emergency services, family members or by themselves.

She said that although there had been an increase in the number of users reporting to hospital, figures from the southern region including Toowoomba and wider Darling Downs were comparative to other parts of the state.

"Drugs are a big issue every where and I doubt there would be anywhere where they aren't," she said.

"The place with the biggest concern would be the Toowoomba Base because of the mass amounts of people presenting there.

"There are policies in place and certainly there's an escalation policy in place.

"Staff know not to put themselves in danger."


Ms Robinson said smaller regional hospitals lacked a designated security officer after hours, but protocols and procedures were in place to help manage the safety of staff.

Those policies included having two people opening the door of the hospital or immediately contacting police if staff were concerned about the person seeking treatment.

"Everywhere that I am aware of, if they're at all concerned about who is on the other side of the door, they immediately call the police," Ms Robinson said.

"It might not be ideal, but certainly as far as I am aware, everywhere within our area have those policies and procedures in place.

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"We would prefer there was somebody there but unfortunately as taxpayers, all those things have to be funded.

"If we could have 24-hour security, it would be great.

"But we have good policies and procedures in place and we make sure staffs adhere to them."

Users of ice, or methamphetamine, start feeling withdrawals after about six hours of taking the drug.

It is then that users can begin to feel anxious, violent, experience extreme agitation, confusion and clumsiness, and are increasingly seeking medical help.

Emergency department staff had copped the brunt of the violence of ice users, she said.

"They're becoming more and more violent in the emergency departments," Ms Robinson said.

"There is no one way they present.

"When the Queensland Ambulance Service brings them up, for example, they can't say definitively what they've taken.

"They (patient) seem to be settled and then when the QAS leave, that's when they become violent."

The Federal Government this year kicked off a national ice taskforce, targeting the increase of the drug in an attempt to curb its spread and usage in communities across the country.

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