The British Columbia Nurses Union will begin pressing charges on behalf of nurses who are abused by patients.
The announcement, made by union president Gayle Duteil at a nurses convention in Vancouver last month, comes amid calls for stiffer penalties for people who assault nurses.
“We have waited too long for the government and health authorities to take action, and our nurses have broken jaws to prove it,” Duteil said at the convention.
The powerful union represents more than 43,000 nurses in the province. It will also create a better support system for abused nurses, including the launch of a 24-hour, seven day abuse hotline to offer support and help nurses make reports.
Duteil also called for B.C. lawmakers to instate stricter penalties for people found to have assaulted nurses. She said signs informing patients they may be removed from the hospital if they attack a nurse are inadequate.
“”We need to take a tougher stand,” Duteil said. “Our nurses are tired of being kicked and punched and slapped.”
The union is also demanding additional security officers in hospitals, personal alarm systems for nurses and improved nurse training, particularly for nurses in psychiatric wards.
“A nurse working full time or part time in psychiatry should be properly trained, and that should be part of fundamental, basic orientation,” Duteil said.
The demands come after a report found nurse assaults nearly doubled in the Ontario University Health Network recently.
This is not the first time the B.C. Nurses Union has criticized hospital security measures in the province. In 2015, the B.C. Health Ministry increased security funds at four hospitals following protests from the union.
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