Delivering emergency care in the watch house: an outcomes analysis.

Grant ID: EMPJ-305R23-2015

Lay Summary

Increasingly, prisoners are requiring transfer to and assessment in the ED; some for illnesses that may be treated in the custodial environment with an appropriately trained health care professional. Optimising how health care is delivered in the watch house environment was the focus of this study, following recommendations in a recent (2012) Inquiry following the death of Herbert John Mitchell.

This study is underpinned by recommendations from deaths in custody, the literature and anecdotal experience. The study will provide a comprehensive outcomes evaluation of a 66 day trial of a model where emergency nurses were posted to the local watch house for an 8hr late shift and a 10hr night shift to supplement domiciliary nursing services to provide 24hr nursing presence in the watch house. This model of enabling experienced emergency nurses the opportunity to work within an 'out of hospital environment' but with the support from medical colleagues has not to our knowledge been trialed elsewhere and is therefore innovative.

The impact expected from this study is on the prisoners, health care staff and police staff working in this model. We expect the following main outcomes: less transfers of prisoners to ED from the watch house and a cost effective model.


> Research Award winner at the Bond University Sustainable Healthcare Awards 2018

Leveraged Funds

- $9,300: Gold Coast Hospital Foundation


Amount Awarded


Grant Scheme


Principal Investigator:
Dr David Green

Co Investigators:
Prof Julia Crilly
Prof Paul Scuffham
Dr Cathy Lincoln
Ms Jo Timms
Mr Ken Becker

Associate Investigators:
Mr Andrew Fisher
Mr Danny Murphy
Dr Nelle van Buuren


Collaborating Institutions


  • EMF media release_2015

  • Media

  • Griffith News (28/10/15)
  • Hospital & Healthcare Bulletin (15/3/16)
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