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Govt announces plan to upgrade hospital security

Security guard Barry Jennings said hospitals aren't equipped to deal with increasingly dangerous patients, at a round-table meeting on hospital violence in Sydney, Monday, February 8, 2016. Mr Jennings was shot at Nepean Hospital last month. (AAP Image/Gemma Najem)

Security guard Barry Jennings said hospitals aren’t equipped to deal with increasingly dangerous patients, at a round-table meeting on hospital violence in Sydney, Monday, February 8, 2016. Mr Jennings was shot at Nepean Hospital last month. (AAP Image/Gemma Najem)

Security at NSW hospital emergency wards will be audited as part of an action plan to improve security, the state government says, following a round-table conference in Sydney yesterday.

As part of the plan, security audits will be conducted at a number of hospitals across the state including the Tweed and Byron District Hospitals on the north coast.

Medical staff will be trained to deal with aggressive patients and TAFE security courses will cover training for the health environment, health minister Jillian Skinner has announced following a meeting in Sydney between medical unions and authorities.

Monday’s meeting was called after a NSW police officer and hospital security guard were shot by a patient in an emergency ward at Nepean Hospital last month.

A security guard at the Tweed Hospital was attacked by two men in December who attempted to run him over in the hospital car park. One of the men later threatened him with a knife.

It is one of a spate of reported violent incidents at the Tweed Hospital, according to the Health Services Union. The union has also made several reports regarding the Lismore Base Hospital.

Security guard Barry Jennings, who was shot in the leg during the Nepean Hospital incident, said staff didn’t have confidence in the current system.

‘Some days you don’t know if you’re going home,’ he told reporters.

‘I’m struggling to recover.’

Decorated dog squad officer Luke Warburton, 39, suffered a life-threatening gunshot wound to his upper thigh during the incident.

Michael de Guzman, 39, allegedly held a doctor hostage with a pair of scissors before shooting the officer and security guard after grabbing the policeman’s gun.

Mr Jennings, who has worked as a security guard for 28 years, called on greater co-operation with police ‘instead of dumping and running’.

Nurses union official Judith Kiejda said substance-fuelled patient presentations were increasing, leaving nurses feeling unsafe and driving some to pay for defence training.

‘When most nurses are getting dressed to go to work they do wonder about how they will … arrive home safely,’ the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association spokeswoman said.

Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said he was disappointed police weren’t present at the roundtable, but had hope following the meeting.

‘(The government) is taking this matter seriously,’ he said.

A further meeting including NSW Police has now been proposed by Ms Skinner within the next month.

– with AAP


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