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Budget 2024: ACEM Welcomes ED Security Investment As A “really Promising Start”

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) has welcomed the $30.848 million for improving emergency department safety in the 2024 budget and awaits further information on how the investment will be implemented.

As violence in EDs continues to rise, ACEM Aotearoa New Zealand Chair Dr Kate Allan said the nation’s emergency clinicians were grateful that the government had responded to their concerns.

“It’s a really promising start. All people must be safe to receive, deliver and support care in Aotearoa New Zealand’s emergency departments, and this investment will support more medical staff to focus on delivering crucial care and help make emergency departments safer – for everyone.”

Dr Allan reiterated that security staff must be appropriately trained, supported, and integrated in their local communities.

“Feedback from the summer trial showed us that security staff only positively contribute if they are embedded in the ED – not outside the door, not elsewhere in the hospital – but a key part of the team, working right alongside us, and are properly trained to understand, communicate effectively with, and support their local community.”

The government announced that the investment will provide 44 security staff across eight EDs in Waitakere, North Shore, Auckland City, Middlemore, Waikato, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin hospitals, with further funding available for regional EDs to access ‘surge support’ and for most districts to have a ‘dedicated resource to train and support security staff and clinical leads.’

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Dr Allan said, “We know some of our colleagues outside these eight EDs are disappointed, and we will continue to work with the government towards the goal of appropriately trained and embedded security 24/7 in every ED across Aotearoa New Zealand.”

ACEM will be contacting Dr Reti privately to welcome the investment, and to seek further information on how it will be allocated, including regional funding for ‘surge support’, and to learn more about the plans for training resources, and evaluation processes.

This investment in ED security was a direct response to the College’s campaign during the 2023 election that called for appropriately trained 24//7 security in every ED, and other measures to protect and restore the nation’s struggling EDs and staff – and get more patients the timely healthcare they need.

Dr Allan said, “Our next step is to work together to better resource the broader health system, as these deficits contribute towards delays for care and increasing levels of aggression and violence in EDs. We need more staffed inpatient beds – particularly in acute mental health and aged care – and to keep working on plans that can support and keep the skilled staff we have, and to continue to recruit, train and support staff for the future.”

“Making our emergency departments safer will help encourage more medical and nursing staff to come work with us in the dynamic and rewarding field of emergency medicine.”

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