CENTRAL Queensland's nursing union fears that Gladstone emergency workers could be the target of violence by drunk and drugged-up patients over the Christmas season.
Queensland Nurses' Union local organiser David Abraham has grave concerns for his members here.
"You've got an area like Gladstone where there are so many young people who have got so much money to spend rather than saving up," Mr Abraham said.
"They've got surplus cash on their hands and they would tend to drink to excess.
"So the risk for more aggressive people in Gladstone wards would be greater and I'm concerned that could be an issue in Gladstone."
While Mr Abraham did not have data to support the theory, he said anecdotally the increasing use of the methamphetamine ice across central Queensland meant patients were frequently becoming violent when nursing staff attempted to treat them.
He said more emergency staff needed to speak out about the problem, but they were afraid to do so because of the fear of payback from their bosses. "We would encourage our members to speak up and lodge complaints against people who perpetrate these acts of violence," he said.
"Nurses are not punching bags for drunken fools."
But local Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic Ron Gibson said while drug culture was on the rise, he wasn't concerned about violent patients.
"The drugs are certainly there," he said. "Luckily, though, we haven't really seen an increase in violence against paramedics."
Gladstone Hospital did not respond to a request for comment.