THE Health Services Union (HSU) NSW has welcomed the release of a final report into improvements to hospital security, calling it long overdue recognition of the "violent horror" hospital workers confront.
HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said the release of the Peter Anderson security review comes after a security assistant at Port Macquarie Hospital had "a chunk of flesh torn from his torso" when a patient bit him last month.
"For the last two decades hospitals have become increasing violent, dangerous places to work," Mr Hayes said. "Our members have been kicked, punched, shot, and stabbed.
"Security officers must be empowered to defend themselves and public safety and have the capacity to de-escalate a situation. We will hold NSW Health accountable to implementing this reform package."
Mr Hayes said he hoped the report would prompt more power, better defensive tools and the employment of extra permanent security officers at NSW hospitals.
The report recommended hospital's ensure the current culture of under-reporting of violence ends; a trial of capsicum foam and other defensive tools to help de-escalate situations; better access to mental health assessments; that duress alarms are worn, and safer hospital designs.
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 made 107 recommendations, and NSW Health says it will continue to work closely with staff, unions and other government agencies to see these recommendations are "actioned and implemented".
Additional measures would include ensuring local health districts "significantly reduce" their use of contract security staff and invest in permanent staff members as a priority, and enhancing security numbers in emergency departments of some rural and regional hospitals.