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Staff ‘at risk’

Tuesday, 19th January, 2016

HSU secretary Gerard Hayes wants security staff to have greater powers to restrain and detain troublemakers in hospitals. HSU secretary Gerard Hayes wants security staff to have greater powers to restrain and detain troublemakers in hospitals.

By Darrin Manuel

The Health Services Union has used a visit to the city to call for greater protection for patients and staff in the Far West’s hospitals.

HSU secretary Gerard Hayes said representatives would meet with NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner on Thursday to find a solution to recent violent incidents in the State’s hospitals.

Mr Hayes said security personnel need additional powers to restrain and detain troublemakers in hospitals, otherwise patients, staff and hospital visitors will continue to face unacceptable risks.

The drug ‘ice’ is of particular concern for the union, and is believed to have been a key factor in recent violence.

“The fact of the matter is everyone in NSW is starting to see the ugly face of this insidious drug,” said Mr Hayes. 

“It’s now at a point where we want to have the minister to sit down at the round table, have multiple agencies involved ... and work out what is the best way of dealing with an epidemic like ice that is manifesting poor behaviour - violent behaviour - in emergency departments.

“What’s led up to this meeting is a range of very serious incidents across regional NSW.

“You should not come to the hospital as a visitor and end up a patient through some of the activity that has gone on in that hospital.

“Hospital staff, especially those working in emergency departments are being assaulted and threatened every day of the week and it’s time the problem was addressed before someone is killed.”

Although Broken Hill’s hospital has not seen an increase in violence over the past six years, there have been around 200 “code black” incidents involving violence or a potential for violence each year.

The Far West Local Health District has been contacted as to whether it would support additional powers for security staff in hospitals.

Mr Hayes said the visit was also a chance to touch base with around 50 members at the Broken Hill Hospital, discuss attraction and retention of staff, industry cost-cutting, and also to simply listen to any other concerns the staff may have.

He said the large group of union officials in attendance, which included Mark Sterrey (HSU president), Mark Morey (Acting Secretary Unions NSW) and David Perry (HSU divisional manager of public health), was to show country union members that they are just as important as their city counterparts.

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