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December 2, 2023

Union claims Lismore Hospital security in crisis

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The Health Services Union say they have has lashed Lismore Hospital for hiring contract security officers who are incapable of intervening in a violent situation.

The HSU claims that labour hire security guards are not authorised to restrain a patient who becomes violent. Nor can they respond to a code black duress alarm in any meaningful way.

The Union has notified the local health district it is now formally in a dispute and will escalate the issue to the Industrial Relations Commission if necessary.

Window dressing won’t solve the problem

HSU Lismore organiser, Pete Kelly said that if Lismore Hospital management thinks window dressing will solve its security crisis they should think again.

‘These labour hire security officers are simply not trained nor authorised to intervene in a violent and dangerous incident. Yet they have been employed to provide security 24 hours a day for at least the next week.

‘This is what happens when you fail to plan and refuse to invest in your workforce – you wind up spending more on inadequate solutions that don’t maintain public security.

Mr Kelly said the HSU members at Lismore Hospital have been treated as punching bags for far too long. ‘In the last few years they have been stabbed, punched and bitten.

‘HSU members are ropable at management’s constant corner cutting. Lismore Hospital is legally required to provide employees with a safe work environment. It’s time they took that seriously.

NSW Local Health District – it’s not a ‘short cut measure’

Chief Executive, Northern NSW Local Health District Wayne Jones said use of external security providers to supplement the health security workforce is not a ‘short cut measure’, and is used based on staff availability, workload and assessment of the duties required at the time.

‘Where additional security presence is required, additional staff are called in,’ said Mr Jones. ‘In the majority of cases, these opportunities are offered first to our existing workforce, but where a role cannot be filled by a health staff member, an external contractor supplies staff.’

Mr Jones said that external security staff are fully licenced security officers and can and do respond to Code Blacks on the department they are assigned to, as part of the response team.

‘Lismore Base Hospital is increasing its security workforce and recruitment is already underway for up to 10 new casual Health and Security Assistants and security staff.

‘At Lismore Base Hospital there are two Health and Security Assistants (HSAs) allocated to the Emergency Department on every shift, 24 hours a day. These staff hold a NSW security licence.

‘There are always staff members on campus who are trained in Violence, Prevention Management, while external security contractors provide an additional support role.

‘Following the incident on 23 August, Lismore Base Hospital increased the security in the emergency department using existing avenues, for the safety of our staff and patients.’

Northern NSW Local Health District is in discussion with the Health Services Union on this matter.

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