15 February 2021

The NSW Government has released the final report into improvements to security in hospitals.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard thanked former Labor Health and Police Minister Peter Anderson for his statewide review and its recommendations to improve safety for staff, patients and visitors to hospitals.

“Peter Anderson visited rural, regional and metropolitan health facilities and spoke at length to frontline staff with one goal in mind: to help make our hospitals as safe as they possibly can be,” Mr Hazzard said.

The review identifies measures including:

  • the need to better design and construct treatment spaces so that staff and patient safety is improved
  • the need to improve access to mental health assessments
  • the need for clinicians, allied health staff and security officers to act as a team when faced with the threat of or actual violence
  • the need for better protection and better compliance, eg wearing of duress alarms in Emergency Departments
  • the need for a trial of capsicum foam sprays and other equipment to help de-escalate threatening situations.

The review involved extensive consultation with: frontline staff from 44 hospitals across NSW; representatives from health unions; and members of the NSW Police Force, NSW Corrective Services and Safework NSW.

The review made 107 recommendations, which were generally supported, and NSW Health will continue to work closely with staff, unions and other Government agencies to see these recommendations are actioned and implemented.

Mr Hazzard said he will also be introducing additional measures building on the Anderson Review.

These include:

  • ensuring Local Health Districts significantly reduce their use of contract security staff and invest in permanent staff members as a priority
  • enhancing security numbers in emergency departments of some rural and regional hospitals.

As part of the NSW Government’s $800 million investment to support the health system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, $15 million will go towards additional temporary security at hospitals with COVID clinics. Another $8.5 million is being spent on employing 86 patient experience officers at 53 hospitals across the State to 30 June 2021 to support emergency departments and associated COVID-19 clinics.

The NSW Government has already invested $19 million to improve security in emergency departments at public hospitals, upgrading CCTV systems, improving access controls between public and staff and installing remote locking to public access doors. Another $5 million has been spent to upgrade duress alarms for staff in emergency departments, which they are mandated to wear while on duty, and there are more than 3,000 CCTV cameras in operation in NSW public hospitals.

Mr Hazzard said he has had recent discussions with the Health Services Union about powers for security staff working in hospitals, and NSW Health would engage with the Department of Communities and Justice and NSW Police Force on that issue.

The report can be found at Improvements to security in hospitals.