CULTURE MUST CHANGE TO ENSURE HOSPITAL SECURITY

Former Health and Police Minister Peter Anderson has delivered his interim report into hospital safety with 48 recommendations, including standardising security practices statewide if possible.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard thanked Mr Anderson for his work to date which has not called for any increase to security staffing numbers, but does recommend ensuring staff are adequately trained. “Whether you are a patient, visitor or you work in a hospital, your safety is vital which is why I asked Mr Anderson to look at whether more could be done, than what is being done,” Mr Hazzard said.

“We know through workers compensation statistics that fewer staff in public hospitals are being injured in assaults in recent years.” “Nevertheless, BOCSAR data indicates assaults that occur on public and private hospital premises, not necessarily in the wards or on staff, are increasing.”

A new incident management system due to be rolled out across NSW Health over the next two years will improve access to the most reliable information about incidents of violent behaviour in and around NSW hospitals.

Other recommendations include:

· Changing security culture at the frontline
· Standardising security practices as much as possible statewide
· Making Local Health Districts accountable for security and leading cultural change
· Defining roles, responsibilities and powers of hospital security staff; and,
· Ensuring hospital staff are adequately trained

The interim review recommended there be further examination of any need for security staff to carry batons and handcuffs.

It noted that doctors, nurses and other frontline staff held strong and contrasting views on this issue. The review identified a need for Local Health Districts to reconsider risk assessments as a new more accurate incident management system is implemented.

Mr Anderson has recommended that the powers of security staff be set out in the Health Services Act to ensure clarity and transparency.

Mr Anderson sought input from the Health Services Union, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation, Australian Medical Association, NSW Police Force, NSW Police Association, NSW Corrective Services, the Australian Security Industry Association and SafeWork NSW, recognising the important role they play in achieving hospital safety and security.

Across NSW, $19 million has been invested to improve security at public hospitals, upgrading CCTV systems and installing remote locking to public access doors, under the 12 Point Plan on Hospital Security.

In addition, over $5 million has been invested to upgrade duress alarms for staff in EDs, which they are mandated to wear while on duty.