The patient was brought in in handcuffs.
The patient was brought in in handcuffs.

Five staff attacked at Mid North Coast hospital

Security staff at Port Macquarie Base Hospital stopped work for an extraordinary meeting this morning, demanding an urgent review of the protocols for transferring patients from police custody to hospital, after a serious violent attack on staff at the weekend.

The Port Macquaire and Coffs Harbour hospitals are both within the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD).

The NSW/ACT Health Services Union (HSU) says five staff were caught up in the attack by the patient around 4am on Saturday morning.

One suffered concussion after being slammed to the ground, while another suffered deep bite wounds to his shoulder.

A third staff member broke five ribs and tore cartilage, while a fourth is being assessed for a possible broken arm. A fifth sustained numerous bruises and cuts.

The patient was brought handcuffed to the emergency department by police escort and released into the custody of the Hospital.

A short time later, the patient absconded.

He was brought back to the hospital by police and placed in the emergency department mental health room. Under clinical direction, only one health and security assistant was assigned to the patient, who quickly became violent and aggressive and attempted to leave.

At that point, five health and security assistants were called to try and restrain the patient, leading to a violent struggle in which they were seriously injured.

“It’s a stroke of luck that no one was killed in this bloody, violent attack,” said Gerard Hayes, HSU NSW Secretary.

“One of our members has literally had flesh torn from his body. Another had his head slammed to the ground. This horrific, unforgettable act of violence will deeply affect everyone injured and also those who witnessed it.

“Sadly this has not come out of the blue. Hospital violence is increasingly common and more severe. We simply don’t have enough staff to cope with the demand. Hospital workers devote their life to care but in return they are treated as punching bags.”

Mr Hayes says it could happen at any hospital and at any given time.

“It could be at Kempsey, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie. Back in 2000 somebody was bludgeoned to death at Kempsey and now twenty years on we still don’t have safe hospitals.”

The union is calling for hundreds more security officers at hospitals across the State with the powers to restrain and detain violent individuals.

“NSW Health must also urgently review the protocols around transferring patients from police custody to hospital. Less than 18 months ago, a violent patient at Port Macquarie Hospital escaped corrective services custody. We have seen a host of similar incidents at other hospitals. The current system is unsustainable and unsafe.”

The Mid North Coast Local Health District has public hospitals in Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Dorrigo, Kempsey, Macksville, Port Macquarie and Wauchope and Community Health Centres at all of those sites as well as Camden Haven, Bowraville, Nambucca Heads, South West Rocks and Woolgoolga.