MGEU troubled by use of surgical scissors in assault; call for full investigation

"The details of this attack are very troubling. How does a patient in a forensic psychiatric ward get their hands on a pair of surgical scissors?" — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President

Winnipeg (30 Jan. 2018) — On January 19, 2 violent incidents occurred in the psychiatric ward of the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) in Winnipeg. The first involved a correctional officer, who is a member of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE), and the second, a member of the Winnipeg Police Service.

Attacks major cause for concern

The incidents began when the correctional officer, who was escorting an inmate to the hospital for treatment, was attacked by another patient in the hospital’s forensic psychiatric unit who was armed with surgical scissors. While responding to the attack, a Winnipeg police officer was subsequently attacked by a second patient.

"The details of this attack are very troubling," said Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President. "How does a patient in a forensic psychiatric ward get their hands on a pair of surgical scissors?"

Fortunately, neither officer was seriously injured in the attacks. However, questions remain about how a patient was able to gain access to surgical scissors in the forensic psychiatric unit, which is supposed to be under tight security.

MGEU/NUPGE demands review of security protocols

In a letter sent to the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health, , the President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and the HSC Chief Operating Officer, Gawronsky urged them to immediately launch a formal investigation into the incident. She also demanded a thorough review of security rotocols to ensure this type of incident does not happen again. 

“This assault has to be a wakeup call for HSC, the WRHA, and Manitoba Justice,” said Gawronsky.  “We are relieved that this assault did not result in more serious injuries, but are very concerned about the ongoing risk to patients, health care workers, hospital security staff, and correctional officers escorting inmates to hospital."

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE