Some 61 percent of staff working in the health service have experienced physical or psychological violence over the past year, costing the government R40-billion. This is according to a study conducted by Dr Mireille Kingma of the International Council of Nurses in Geneva, Switzerland, who found that nurses and ambulance staff were at the highest risk of encountering violent situations.
Kingma carried out her research in several countries, including Brazil, Australia and Thailand, and South Africa with the help of Dr Susan Steinman, founder of South Africa's Work Trauma Foundation. The foundation deals with violence in the workplace.
The findings showed a marked increase in such violence. Staff in the health services are 16 times more likely to be victims of violence. According to the survey, psychological violence - considered as, if not more, destructive than physical violence - was more prevalent between staff. With physical violence, the patient and family members were usually the perpetrators.
Large hospitals in densely populated areas experienced higher crime and more violence than private health sectors, said Kingma. Steinman, a trained country-facilitator for the International Labour Organisation, assisted in the development of Stress, Tobacco, Alcohol & Drugs, HIV/Aids and Violence, or Solve, which aims to deal with violence at the workplace. (Source: The Cape Argus, 19 November) 2003