ASMOF opposes the “downgrading” of Liverpool Hospital security


Liverpool Hospital wants to implement a new Emergency Department (ED) security model which will reduce the amount of dedicated security services for the hospital.

The proposal is to replace dedicated security officers with Health and Security Assistants (HASA). In addition to security tasks HASA’s undertake duties associated with the care of patients, the provision of general and cleaning duties and routine clerical duties.

The HASA model works well where the requirement for a security presence is low – the role was initially implemented to ensure a security presence at smaller rural hospitals with fewer presentations.

The HASA model will not work at a large metropolitan hospital like Liverpool, which has a large number of patient presentations, many with complex mental health issues where there has been a history of assaults and abusive behaviour against staff.

Our members, patients and other health workers at the Liverpool ED require good rapid 24-hour access to adequate numbers of trained internal security officers.

Our position is also supported by the HSU – the union which represents security officers.

ASMOF supports a zero-tolerance approach to violence in the workplace. We need a real commitment from SWSLH and Liverpool Hospitals management towards placing workplace violence as a high priority issue and warns that no violent behaviour will be tolerated. We do not want a watered down “part time” service which would compromise the health and safety of staff and patients.

ASMOF has been actively campaigning for improvements in ED security since the 2016 incident at in the Nepean Hospital ED where a police officer and a member of the security staff were shot by a patient, using the constable's service pistol.

ASMOF, the HSU and Nurses Union were key players in an NSW Health security roundtable which followed. This led to an NSW Parliamentary inquiry into violence against emergency personnel, the development of a 12-point Action Plan and the ED Security Audit Report in 2016.

In out submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Violence against Emergency Services Personnel we presented evidence that emergency departments have the highest incidence of violence in healthcare, and up to 90% of emergency department staff have experienced some type of violence in their careers, and the rate at which violent incidents occur are 3 per 1000 patient attendances at EDs, which typically equates to one every 1 or 2 days per department.

The appropriate level, and type of required security staff should reflect the level of identified risk of security/violence occurring, the size of the facility, the services being provided and the local demographic.

Whilst ASMOF commends the hospital for deciding to get rid of the outsourced contract security service hospital management cannot implement an inhouse model on the cheap.

A 2018 review of the SWSLHD security services conducted by Ernst and Young recommended replacing external contract security services with permanent internal staff. Ernst and Young highlighted three key drivers for this recommended change:

  • the need for improved safety of staff, patients, carers and visitors due to the increasing number of patient with behavioural problems
  • the need for improved patient and staff satisfaction with the service
  • the need to reduce reliance on premium cost external contract security services.