The Lismore Base Hospital.
The Lismore Base Hospital. Cathy Adams

Patient allegedly threatens staff with a swag of weapons

A PATIENT at Lismore Base Hospital allegedly threatened hospital staff with a swag of weapons on Sunday morning.

According to Inspector Nicole Bruce, the Victorian man allegedly intimidated staff during discussions about pain relief medication.

According to police reports, the man, 53, allegedly told hospital staff: "I have an axe in my bag and and I'll use it".

When police searched the man's bag they allegedly found a machete, small axe (tomahawk), bayonet and several knives.

He was arrested and taken to Lismore police station and charged with intimidation, custody of a knife in a public place, and breach of bail.

The man appeared in Lismore District Court yesterday.

The incident has sparked renewed concerns from local union representatives regarding safety of hospital staff.

This month local hospital staff joined more than 140 delegates of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) to share their growing fears about incidents of violence and aggression occurring in public hospitals.

Acting general secretary of the NSWNMA, Judith Kiejda, said the issue of escalating violence in the workplace dominated the meeting.

"The more we look into the issue of violence, the more horror stories and evidence comes to light of just how bad the situation is in our public hospital system," Ms Kiejda said.

"It's happening throughout various wards in regional and rural hospital settings as well and it desperately needs addressing."

Gil Wilson, the Lismore hospital branch secretary of the NSWNMA, criticised the use of private security agencies throughout the region's hospitals.

"Surely we can employ our own in-house security guards, trained to specifications for a hospital environment," he said.

"How would management like it if someone came into their office with threatening, aggressive behaviour?"

According to a NSWNMA spokesperson, Byron Bay District Hospital delegates attending this month's meeting raised concerns about the rise in patients presenting with mental health issues.

The spokesperson said the concerns related to a recent memorandum of understanding between the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW Police that stated if police found a person who appeared to be mentally ill or mentally disturbed they could take them to a declared mental health facility under Section 22.

The Minister of Health has agreed to a round table to discuss the issue of escalating violence.

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