Safety fears over security changes
HEALTH Services Union officials and Northern New South Wales Local Health District management will meet on Monday to resolve union concerns over patient and staff safety following changes to security levels at Lismore Base Hospital.
"The (health service) is playing Russian roulette with security staffing levels," said Darren Brown, organiser for the Health Services Union.
"We fear it's only a matter of time before there is an incident that will result in tragedy."
Chief executive of the NNSWLHD, Chris Crawford, said he was surprised by the union's attitude to the new security arrangements at Lismore Base.
"We consulted with the HSU and the Nurses Union for six months last year before putting these changes in place," Mr Crawford said.
"We have benchmarked our security across the region and we have as much, if not more security than other hospitals, including Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads.
"I have had no negative feedback until there were work bans threatened this week."
Mr Brown said his union's concerns also extended to Ballina and Tweed Heads hospitals.
"We wrote to the (health service) two weeks ago and the earliest they can meet with us is next Monday," Mr Brown said.
"We find it confusing that it has taken so long for them to meet with us given the seriousness of our concerns.
"I also don't believe the NSW Government has recognised that there has been an increase in the numbers of alcohol and drug-affected and mentally ill patients that present at hospitals.
"There are security incidents every week where aggressive patients present at hospitals and security staff have to step in and subdue the situation."