The union representing nurses says hospitals in regional areas of New South Wales are particularly vulnerable to violent incidents, and deserve special consideration.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner has agreed to a statewide audit of hospitals after a shooting at Sydney’s Nepean Hospital last week.
Mrs Skinner said she would consider integrating security staff into hospital emergency wards.
A meeting this week of nurses union delegates raised the issue of rising rates of violence against members in hospitals across the state.
NSW Nurses and Midwives Association acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said one of the most concerning stories was an incident at Scone Hospital in the NSW Hunter Valley in September.
“The police brought in a person under the influence of some substance or other, and they had no sooner left the place when he escalated and became extremely violent,” Ms Kiejda said.
“In that episode, he managed to remove an automatic door off its hinges, he just tore it off.
“He used that door to squash our nurse up against the wall and obviously she was quite injured.
“There was an investigation, but a small facility like Scone only has minimal staffing, so they only had two people in the emergency department on night duty.”
Ms Kiejda said action on the issue of hospital security was long overdue.
“We were gobsmacked by what we were hearing and particularly from rural and regional areas, where they have minimal staffing,” she said.
“They share their police with other towns, and have security that just happens to pop in on certain nights of the week. Other nights they have nothing.
“It’s just a recipe for disaster, so it is pleasing that the Minister is going to do an audit, but let’s do it quickly.
“Really the situation in NSW is just waiting for another disaster to happen.”