The Health Services Union says violence is spiralling out of control at Tweed Hospital.
Spokesman Jonathan Milman said a security guard at Tweed Heads was lucky to survive after almost being run down by a car in December.
He said staff at the Tweed Hospital have recorded 500 incidents of violence in January alone.
But Mr Milman said many of those incidents would not show up in the official figures.
“These security officers are turning up to work knowing that each and every day they’re going to be confronted with violence,” he said.
“The Health [Service] has an incident-management system, and that system is antiquated.
“It continues to time out and it is not recording the correct data.
“For Tweed, of those 500 incidents last month, less than a quarter were captured by New South Wales Health.”
The chief of staff at the Northern New South Wales Local Health District, Wayne Jones, said the union was scaremongering.
“The sensationalising and the fear-mongering that the HSU is using in this regard is regrettable,” he said.
“We do not want the community to believe that they’re coming into an environment where they’re likely to confront more violence in our hospitals than they do on our streets.
“That is an inappropriate image to be projecting.
“The 500 in January is just fanciful.
“The figures we have [show] around about 20.”
There have also been calls to beef up security at the nearby Lismore Base Hospital, after a nurse was allegedly threatened by a man with knives.
Police said a patient demanded medication from the nurse around 8:00am on Sunday.
When told to wait his turn, the man allegedly told the nurse he had an axe in his bag, then later laid two knives on his bed.
Nursing union delegate Gil Wilson said staff deserved a safer working environment.
“Nobody should have to work in fear or work in fear of violence,” he said.
“We need lots of security … we need trained people on the ground who are trained in take-downs and who are there to help.Who are right on your shoulder when somebody like that comes through your door.”
The Health Services Union has launched a campaign to give hospital security staff greater powers.
“Those powers include the ability to search bags or search patients where there is a real concern that they could be carrying a weapon,” Mr Milman said.
“Particularly if there is a prior history of such.”
A 53-year-old Victorian man charged in relation to the incident at the Lismore Base Hospital appeared in court yesterday and was refused bail.
Last month New South Wales Health Minister Jillian Skinner announced she would hold a roundtable discussion with health professionals and carry out an audit of hospital security.
Source: ABC News