The Health Services Union addresses workers at a protest earlier this year.
The Health Services Union addresses workers at a protest earlier this year. Scott Powick

Hospital workers being 'spat on, harassed'

THE Health Services Union has slammed the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) for "dragging its feet" over the issue of hospital security which it claims is worse than ever.

Union secretary Gerard Hayes said there were continuing concerns over the safety of workers at Northern Rivers hospitals after a number of serious security incidents.

In December, an outpatient went on a terrifying rampage at the Tweed Hospital where they chased patients and staff with a large knife.

At the time, hospital sources said staff were fed up with poor security at the facility.

"Someone is going to get killed," one source said.

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old boy faced court after allegedly threatening a security guard, smashing a window and damaging $7000 worth of equipment at the Lismore hospital.

Mr Hayes said workers were not prepared to continue waiting for much-needed security improvements.

"We are seeing an increase of anti-social behaviour in a hospital setting," he said.

"The day-to-day abuse of workers being harassed or spat upon doesn't even get reported anymore.

"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." 

Mr Hayes said the union had been advised an internal review of hospital security in the Northern Rivers had been completed, but not made available for discussion.

"Hospital security is an issue right across the state, but it's even more pressing in Northern NSW," he said. 

"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."

Mr Hayes said concerns over safety at Northern Rivers hospitals will be front and centre at a mass meeting of NSW hospital security workers in Sydney this Saturday.

The health district's chief executive, Wayne Jones, said the district had conducted a security review at all of its hospitals and "begun identifying opportunities for improvement".

He said the district had also begun implementing recommendations from a state-wide report into hospital security.

"Northern NSW Local Health District is committed to providing a safe workplace for our staff, visitors and patients, and takes a zero tolerance approach to violence and aggression within our facilities," he said.

"The LHD continues to invest in improving security across the district."

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