02 July 2024

The Minns Labor Government will undertake a 12-month trial of body worn cameras for security staff in selected public hospitals to improve safety for staff, patients and visitors.

The trial, which comes after a number of aggressive assaults on public hospital staff, will be rolled out in at least nine hospitals to determine how effective the technology is at deterring and de-escalating violent incidents.

Up to 300 body worn cameras will be in operation across NSW hospitals when the trial begins to test whether they are an effective tool for security staff, as well as potentially collect vision that could be used as evidence in prosecutions.

Planning work is currently underway to ensure privacy and security processes are in place to support the commencement of the trial in public hospitals as soon as possible.

The use of body worn cameras will be done in a way that ensures the management of patient and staff privacy, with scenes only recorded if security officers believe there is a risk of harm to staff, patients or others.

The trial will be independently evaluated once completed.

The following sites will participate in the trial:

  • Wyong Hospital (Central Coast Local Health District)
  • Westmead Hospital (Western Sydney Local Health District)
  • Royal North Shore Hospital (Northern Sydney Local Health District)
  • Nepean Hospital (Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District)
  • Liverpool Hospital (South West Sydney Local Health District)
  • Wollongong Hospital (Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District)
  • Shoalhaven Hospital (Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District)
  • John Hunter Hospital (Hunter New England Local Health District)
  • Tamworth Hospital (Hunter New England Local Health District).

NSW Health facilities have a number of key strategies in place to ensure the safest possible environment for staff, patients and visitors. The types of security arrangements include:

  • Ongoing risk assessments to identify and manage emerging security risks.
  • Safety huddles to share information on patient related safety risk with incoming workers.
  • Patient management plans that set out specific arrangements to keep both the patient and healthcare workers safe when providing care.
  • Multi-disciplinary Code Black (duress) response teams. This includes the use of NSW Health security staff/Health and Security Assistants to assist clinical staff with the management of incidents.
  • Workplaces designed to enhance line of sight for staff, including dual egress at staff stations and in treatments rooms.
  • Lockdown arrangements including secure entry points between public and clinical areas and secure perimeters for facilities, particularly after hours.
  • Personal mobile and fixed duress alarms for staff to ensure they can summon assistance when necessary.
  • Closed circuit television (CCTV) and effective lighting to ensure visibility.
  • Procedures to enhance car park security, including regular security patrols.

This trial is part of the ongoing implementation of recommendations from the Anderson Review of Hospital Security. It follows implementation of other recommendations by the NSW Government to improve hospital security including the establishment of the Safety and Security Improvement Unit within the Ministry of Health; the standardising of code black procedures; and the enhanced support for patient experience officers.

NSW Health continues to monitor the implementation of the recommendations, which is currently at 97 per cent.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Ryan Park:

“The safety of our healthcare staff and patients is a priority and the NSW Government has a zero-tolerance approach to violence and aggression in our public hospitals.

“The body worn camera trial is one of several actions NSW Health has taken to address the recommendations of the Anderson report and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to continuing to improve security practices to keep staff and patients safe.

“The trend in assaults in our hospitals is unacceptable and we are taking action.”

Quotes attributable to HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes:

“This is a good first step recognising the risks security face each day in our health system.

“However, there is more to be done from the Anderson Report and I look forward to working with the Health Minister and NSW Government on this issue.”