Extra security officers and 24- hour CCTV surveillance has started at Wyong and Gosford hospital emergency departments following a lengthy campaign by the Health Services Union (HSU).
In August, about 80 health workers across the Central Coast held stop work meetings to express concerns over their safety in the workplace. “Every day our people are at risk, ” said Brendan Roberts, acting Deputy Manager of the HSU.
“Workers are continually being subjected to violence and assault in hospitals, at times being injured and requiring medical attention, ” he said.
The NSW government agreed to a trial of an extra 15 security officers assigned between Wyong and Gosford hospitals and a 24-hour patrol room operator to monitor CCTV cameras on site at all times.
Yet, when NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, announced extra staff this week, it was for only 13 extra staff, and to be shared between Wyong, Gosford and Blacktown hospitals. Hazzard said this three month trial would focus on trying to identify and intervene in incidents before they escalated. “Often aggression is not deliberate, ” he said “and it is difficult for staff trying to deal with patients whose thinking may be clouded by drugs, alcohol or dementia, but it doesn’t make the situation any easier”. NSW Health will review the trial results, alongside any recommendations from Peter Anderson’s final report into hospital security, due in late December.
Anderson is a former Health Minister and Police Minister who served in Labor governments. He is also a former police officer and for eight years was Professor and Director of the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at Macquarie University. The NSW Government appointed Anderson to review hospital security measures and look for any improvements that might help staff, patients and visitors feel safer.
Source: Media release, Nov 2 Media statement, Nov 4 Brad Hazzard, NSW Health Minister Article, Sept 25 Wyong Regional Chronicle Journalist, Sue Murray