The health union is calling for extra security at hospitals.
The health union is calling for extra security at hospitals. Cathy Adams

Health workers 'sick of being treated like punching bags'

A HEALTH union has called for improvements to hospital security after a recent incident in Lismore.

It's understood what began as an argument over a cigarette escalated into a fight between a 24-year-old Grafton man and a Lismore Base Hospital securit guard.

Police have charged the Grafton man, who was a patient at the hospital, with intimidation, destroying or damaging property, assault and assaulting police over the alleged June 21 incident.

The Health Services Union has said in a statement this was "yet more evidence" to support improved security at the facility.

Police will allege the man pushed a security officer to the ground, causing a number of injuries and breaking his watch.

The union's NSW secretary, Gerard Hayes, said they had been advised an internal review of hospital security across the Northern NSW Local Health District had been completed.

He said a broader review, known as the Anderson Review, was currently progressing.

But he said it was unclear when this would be finalised.

Mr Hayes said it was the second time such charges had been laid in relation to alleged incidents at the hospital in the past month, while a 39-year-old woman remains in custody on violence charges after she allegedly stabbed a Lismore Base Hospital wardsman with a syringe last November.

"Hospital security is an issue right across the state, but it's even more pressing in Northern NSW," Mr Hayes 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 a recent meeting of a large number of security guards and paramedics, held in Sydney, supported a move for paramedics to be able to return their patients to ambulances if they felt the security in the emergency department was lacking.

"Enough is enough," Mr Hayes said.

"Our members are sick of being treated like punching bags.

"We have been arguing for 250 extra security guards with special constable powers for more than three years.

"We are now at the point where paramedics are being belted in hospitals while effectively doing the job of security officers.

"In the last year hospital workers have been stabbed, punched, pushed and spat upon. Will it take a death for the Government to deal with this problem?"

The Northern NSW Local Health District has been approached for comment.



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