Remote Area Nurse Safety Review: Implementation Update


Natasha Fyles
Minister for Health

Important Steps to Improve Nurse Safety

31 March 2017

The Northern Territory Government has taken important steps to improve safety for nurses working in remote areas, implementing all of the high priority recommendations from Remote Area Nurse Safety; On-Call After Hours Security Review.

The Minister for Health Natasha Fyles said the review was done after the tragic death of remote-area nurse Gayle Woodford in South Australia just over a year ago.

“We know Teritorians are rightly concerned about this death and we’ve taken action,” Ms Fyles said.

“All 14 Recommendations from the review have been accepted - with the high priority recommendations implemented by the end of March as per the government’s commitment.

“We believe every Territorian has the right to feel safe in their work place.

“Territory nurses play a vital role in caring for the Territory’s most vulnerable and it’s important they are provided with a safe and secure framework to do that in.

“The top five recommendations have now been implemented at NT government clinics, including the mandating of a ‘Second Responder’, meaning nurses no longer attend call outs alone.”

High Priority Recommendations Implemented at NTG Clinics include:

Recommendation One

All remote communities now have a second responder in place. Staff attending a call out at any time of day are accompanied by a second person. This includes call-outs, home, community or outstation visits.
Wherever possible, the second responder is a locally trusted and respected Aboriginal community member. This is part of an NT-wide policy of standardised safety procedures.

Recommendation Five

A standardised orientation process is being rolled out across the NT, with all NT Health remote area staff receiving online access to this training as part of their initial induction, in addition to scheduled face-to-face programs on or after commencement.
Additionally, all remote area staff will receive a local induction to their community of work as part of this recommendation.
An evaluation process will be developed to measure the outcomes of the review through specific Key Performance Indicators, including agency costs, staff retention, satisfaction and turnover rates.

Recommendation Six

The re-establishment of the expert internal relief pool has been implemented.. This provides support to the service with experienced, ongoing, tenured remote nurses available to meet relief requirements and ensure there will always be a second nurse available in each community. (The expert internal relief pool will be made up of five positions in the Top End and five in Central Australia – these will be filled by nurses who are familiar with Northern Territory Government protocols)

Recommendation Twelve

A detailed infrastructure and equipment audit has been completed, providing information to effectively address issues such as housing and health centre security, communications systems, personal, vehicle and equipment safety.
This NT-wide audit has highlighted issues that need priority attention and as a result of the audit, a range of safety and communication equipment is currently being trialled. Once the most effective tools have been identified they will be rolled out NT wide, these will include GPS and staff tracking devices.
Options are also being considered to provide each nurse with internet access in their accommodation.

Recommendation Fourteen

The Infrastructure Coordinator Position is being reviewed to enable feedback systems and action on streamlined maintenance requests.


“The Northern Territory Government is ensuring the safety and security of all employees, including remote area nurses, second responders and all support staff that work in remote communities,” Ms Fyles said.

“Implementing all 14 recommendations remains a high priority and we will continue to work with key stakeholders to make sure they’re implemented in line with the formal review.

“The next progress report will be delivered in September.”


Media contact: Laetitia Lemke  0418 973 602