Workers at Lismore Base Hospital stage a protest outside the hospitals front entrance to call for an urgent increase in security staff and staffing in the Emergency Department.
Workers at Lismore Base Hospital stage a protest outside the hospitals front entrance to call for an urgent increase in security staff and staffing in the Emergency Department. Marc Stapelberg

Violence towards hospital staff 'at a tipping point'

MORE than 50 staff from Lismore Base Hospital staged a protest to call for an urgent increase in security staff and staffing in the Emergency Department.

The protest which was jointly organised by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and Health Services Union (HSU), comes after the recent shocking attack where a woman stabbed a staff member with a syringe at LBH earlier this month.

Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey, said said hospital workers were fed up with the lack of progress following a number of serious security instances at the hospital in recent months.

Mr Morey said workers and patients deserved to be safe at all times while they were in the hospital precinct.

"Whether you're a nurse or a doctor, a wardsperson or allied health professional, a cleaner or a kitchen worker - you should be able to come to work confident there will be security officers at hand if you need them," he said.

"Unfortunately, workers at Lismore Base Hospital do not have that confidence at the moment."

NSWNMA LBH branch secretary Gil Wilson said staff have simply had enough.

Mr Wilson who has worked at the hospital for 16 years said the situation of violence towards staff "is at a tipping point."

"We are faced with so much violence and aggression and we asked management for help...and we got a wishy washy answer," he said.

"We want a commitment to staff a security officer in the Emergency Department to protect the staff, we have a right to a safe work place."

Mr Morey said research showed that higher nurse-to-patient ratios save lives. He said a mandated minimum ration of one nurse for every three patients in the Emergency Department.

"When dealing with multiple emergency situations at once, a minimum nurse ratio can be the difference between life and death," he said.

NNSWLHD executive director Wayne Jones said aggression towards staff or other patients is never OK.

"NNSWLHD is undertaking a review of security arrangements...and includes consultation with the HSU and the NSWNMA," he said.

"Across NNSWLHD there are 58 full-time equivalent Security Officers and Health and Security Assistant positions, as well as casual staff."

More than $1.4 million has been invested to ensure appropriate LBH staff have duress alarms.