On Monday the Otago Daily Times reported the board issued helmets after two assaults in which nurses were punched in the head.

The information was in a written response to an Official Information Act request.

But mental health nursing director Heather Casey said the helmets were “a recommendation only”.

“[This] was discussed at a clinical level around one particular patient and a decision was made that helmets were not required as the acute situation had resolved.

“Helmets have therefore not been issued to mental health staff but if a situation arises
where an acutely unwell patient does hit out at staff and does target the head then protective headwear could be ordered as part of [protective equipment] available,” Casey said.

In April, a nurse was concussed after being kicked and punched in the head and mid-body area. In another case, a nurse was punched in the head region by a patient.

In May, a staff member’s arm was fractured after a patient barged them into a door.

Assaults in the mental health service have sharply increased this year. In the first six months of 2017, 90 assaults occurred on mental health staff, compared with 84 in the whole of 2016.

Source: NZ Herald

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