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March 5, 2021

Union calls for better security at Tweed Heads hospital following replica gun incident

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The Health Services Union (HSU) has called for security to be beefed up at Tweed Hospital after a man became abusive to staff and then allegedly pulled out a replica handgun.

The union’s NSW Secretary, Gerard Hayes, said the incident, which resulted in a 37-year-old being arrested and charged, highlighted ‘serious deficiencies in the security arrangements at the hospital’.

‘Hospitals must be places where patients, their families and workers can be safe,’ Mr Hayes said.

Mr Hayes said hospital workers were seeking a meeting with hospital management to discuss the incident and need for improved security arrangements.

‘We urgently need to see more security staff, an increase in the use of CCTV security cameras.’

‘Luckily this latest incident ended without anyone getting hurt, but we cannot continue to rely on luck. We must make sure our hospitals are as safe as possible.’

Police say they were called to the hospital following reports that a man was verbally abusing staff.

They arrived shortly after the 37-year-old had allegedly produced the replica gun.

At no stage did the man enter any of the hospital buildings.

The man was arrested and taken to Tweed Heads police station where he was charged with possess unauthorised firearm, two counts of stalk/intimate intend fear physical harm, and custody of knife in public place.

He appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court yesterday (Wednesday).

In a statement to The Echo, the Chief Executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD), Wayne Jones, said a full complement of security staff had been rostered on at the time of the incident who followed standard protocols along with Emergency Department personnel.

‘Across NNSWLHD there are 58 full time equivalent security officers and health and security assistant positions, as well as casual staff,’ Mr Jones said. 

‘Across NSW, $19 million has been invested to improve security in emergency departments at public hospitals, including in NNSWLHD. 

‘NNSWLHD has implemented a range of security improvements across the District, including a recent increase in security staff at The Tweed Hospital. 

‘Over $1.4 million has been invested to ensure appropriate staff have access to personal mobile duress alarms which they are mandated to wear while on duty.’ 

He said other safety measures in NNSWLHD included: 

* Fixed duress alarms as well as personal duress alarms installed. 

* Violence Prevention Management Training  

* One-day de-escalation training for all staff working in high risk areas within smaller facilities

* Two Safety Culture Coordinators working with hospital staff in NNSWLHD as part of a comprehensive safety culture initiative


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