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Union Calls For Investigation Into Security Guards Injured In Hospital Attack

E tū is calling for a serious harm investigation into the case of two security guards who were injured when a staff member was attacked at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.

On 21 May, two security guards were stabbed with a pair of scissors when they intervened in the attack on a health care assistant.

One of the guards was stabbed in the hand, while the other received stab wounds to the back of the neck.

E tū delegate Gareth Liley is one of the guards who was stabbed and says it’s not the first time workers have been injured on the job.

“We have been warning the DHB of the risk of something like this happening. We want to go home safely to our families, just like everyone else does.

“What we need is the right support, personal protective equipment, staffing levels, and training, to ensure we can keep ourselves and our colleagues safe at work,” Gareth says.

E tū Director Sam Jones says the union has demanded an improvement in working conditions at Counties Manukau District Health Board and that WorkSafe be notified to conduct a serious harm investigation into the incident, with worker representation.

“It appears that despite the stabbings, because no one was in hospital overnight, they don’t see it as serious enough. It’s just unacceptable,” Sam says.

“Violence in the workplace cannot be treated by our health system like business as usual for our essential service workers.”

Bringing in standardised training, pay rates and hours, appropriate PPE, staffing levels and personal support at all DHBs would go a long way to helping the situation, Sam says.

These were all recommendations included in a March 2020 report on New Zealand’s hospital security services by the National Bipartite Action Group. It found that during a 12-month period, there were more than 5000 security incidents, including 230 reported assaults, logged across 13 of 20 DHBs.

Respondents also agreed the number and frequency of acts of aggression in hospitals was on the rise.

Sam says the review was an important piece of work and a good example of health unions and the DHBs working collaboratively to find solutions to an increasingly serious problem across our hospitals.

“We see the recommendations and their integration into the workplace as a crucial step in keeping our frontline health workers and patients safe.”

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