"Security at Princess Margaret Hospital"

About: Princess Margaret Hospital for Children

(as a parent/guardian),

I was recently in PMH with my child for 9 days.  The facilities at Megazone and Livewire are wonderful initiatives for helping to keep PMH's young patients entertained and as happy as possible.  The staff from Livewire visited my child on the ward before my child was well enough to visit Livewire, and provided my child with arts & crafts, playing cards, and comics to entertain them.  The staff and volunteers at Livewire and Megazone do a fabulous job. 

My experience was unfortunately marred by an incident that occurred while my child was in Livewire and I was sat outside on the terrace at Megazone (as parents are not allowed in the Livewire zone).  I was verbally abused by a woman who accused me of staring at her.  She yelled and swore at me, approached me aggressively and threatened to - poke my eyes out.  I was very shocked and shaken by this and once she had retreated away from me, went to inform the lady at the front desk of the incident.  She phoned security to ask them to come and escort the woman out, but from what I understood security refused to attend - I believe telling her that they would only come for a duress alarm or code black.  She therefore activated the duress alarm and security then attended and I relayed the incident to them, but they said they couldn't do anything as it was my word against hers.  They did not ask if anyone else witnessed the incident (there were several other witnesses to the incident who could have corroborated what I had said) and were not even concerned about confirming if the child with her was a patient of the hospital.  Security did say that they would have a word with her.  I collected my child from Livewire and left distraught feeling that there was no safe sanctuary away from the ward. 

I'm concerned that the lady at the front desk had noted no security presence at Megazone at all that day. I'm concerned that anyone off the street can walk in there and I'm concerned by the lack of concern of security at PMH to the threats that were made to me.

The employee of Megazone was absolutely lovely, supportive and brought a cup of tea up to me on the ward and I eventually ventured back down to Megazone for my child's sake.  It's a great facility with great staff and volunteers, unfortunately let down by the security at PMH.

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Responses

Response from Victor Cheng, Executive Director, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children

picture of Victor Cheng

Dear felt unsafe,

Thanks for your feedback. I’m sorry that this occurred and that you were made to feel unsafe and unprotected within our hospital. Our team are currently investigating the matter and I will get back to you in more detail when I have been made aware of the outcome.

Kind regards

Dr Victor Cheng
Executive Director
Princess Margaret Hospital for Children

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Response from Victor Cheng, Executive Director, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children

picture of Victor Cheng

Dear felt unsafe,

Thank you again for your considered feedback after what was understandably a very distressing experience. Please be assured that we have taken this matter extremely seriously and the incident has been investigated.

The head of security has advised me that security officers should and do attend when requested by phone. When contacted, they may seek to clarify whether a Code Black should be called, as the full security team would attend in this instance. It is in these situations that the duress alarm should be activated. The two officers who attended were genuinely surprised that the Megazone staff member may have been under the impression they would not attend unless the duress alarm was activated, as this was never their intention and so there may have been some misunderstanding during this phone call. I acknowledge that this would have added confusion to a distressing situation and I apologise for that.

Please be assured that there was never any doubt by the security team about what you were reporting, and the abuse you were subjected to. In your feedback you have noted that there were witnesses who could have corroborated your story; however, unfortunately when the security officers approached the other adults in the vicinity, nobody came forward as a witness. It is a delicate balance to manage these situations and I am sorry that the security officers could not remove the person from the Megazone. The person was spoken to by the security officers, who conveyed to her the expectations in relation to behaviour within hospital, including the Megazone.

I’m sorry that you were made to feel unsafe and unprotected at our hospital. I hope that your subsequent visits to the Megazone have been entirely more pleasant, and this has gone some way in restoring your confidence in the area and the service it provides to our patients and families.

Thank you again for contacting us and bringing this matter to our attention. Please also accept my best wishes for your child.

Kind regards

Dr Victor Cheng
Executive Director
Princess Margaret Hospital for Children

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