Industrial action by Northern Rivers health workers could be the next step if no action on security at local hospitals is taken, says the Health Services Union (HSU). A number of serious incidents at hospitals in the region over the last two years has led to repeated calls for more security.
Another serious incident at the Lismore Base Hospital recently took place when a 14 year old boy allegedly threatened a security guard, before going on a rampage and damaging equipment.
This follows the death of a prisoner outside the Lismore emergency department on March 15 when he tried to escape following treatment, an incident in which a man pulled a replica gun in Tweed Hospital in late 2018 and repeated lock-downs on Kyogle Memorial Hospital in 2017.
HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes said the Northern NSW Local Hospital District (NNSWLHD) had been dragging its feet on the issue of hospital security, and workers were not prepared to continue waiting for much-needed security improvements.
He said that concerns over safety at Northern Rivers hospitals will be front and centre at a mass meeting of NSW hospital security workers in Sydney on Saturday (15 June) according to a press release from the HSU.
‘We are tired of the talk, and tired of review after review. If we can’t get action soon, then workers will have to consider industrial action,’ said Mr Hayes.
Mr Hayes said the HSU has been advised that an internal review of hospital security in the NNSWLHD had been completed, but it had not been presented to the HSU for discussion.
In the meantime, a broader statewide review of hospital security (the Anderson Review) was continuing, but there is no timeline for it to be finished.
‘Hospital security is an issue right across the state, but it’s even more pressing in Northern NSW,’ he said.
‘We are seeing an increase anti-social behaviour in a hospital setting. The day-to-day abuse of workers being harassed or spat upon doesn’t even get reported anymore.
‘Frankly it’s time for the NNSWLHD to stop playing games, so we can all get on with the job and put in place genuine measures to keep our hospitals safe and free from violence.’