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WA nurses to get stab vests, duress alarms

The union for WA health workers wants the state government to prioritise regional hospitals in its roll out of stab-vests and personal alarms to help protect staff from violent patients.

Health Minister Roger Cook on Sunday announced $2.2 million would be allocated in the forthcoming 2018/19 budget to improve the safety of frontline staff and security at risk from increasing violence and aggression in the health system.

Cook said the equipment was an unfortunate but necessary precaution given the levels of violence and aggression, particularly in hospital emergency departments.

The measures were part of a McGowan government election promise, with more than 11,000 violent and aggressive incidents reported during 2016/17.

Health Services Union WA secretary Dan Hill said his members welcomed the protective gear but that staff needed to be involved in the vest design process, with preference to regional and community mental health workers.

"It needs to be a priority for remote areas and those working alone," he said.

Hill said extra security was desperately needed at Bunbury Regional Hospital in WA's south, where wastewater testing shows high rates of methamphetamine use.

Emergency nurses and clinical staff were "extremely vulnerable" to unprovoked, unpredictable attacks from people high on drugs, who often took up to three security staff to subdue, he said.

The government will purchase about 2500 mobile duress alarms and 250 stab vests over the next three years.

Further protective equipment will be rolled out at high-risk sites after 2018/19, following an assessment of their security needs.

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