Hospital Security: Interim Report Released


In January ASMOF submitted to the Review of Hospital Security in NSW, where we reported that the 12 Point Action Plan to improve hospital security was being implemented in an ad-hoc manner and hadn’t successfully reduced the risk of violence to many of our members.

ASMOF made a number of recommendations to improve security for our members. We called for underlying resourcing issues that were exacerbating safety risks to be addressed as a priority. We recommended investment of greater resources in community based mental health and drug and alcohol services to reduce hospital inpatient bed demand. We also recommended that Behavioural Assessment Units (BAUs) which have been introduced in Melbourne to be piloted in high risk EDs.

In addition to these measures we called for increased security staff, improved incident managing reporting systems, appropriate, comprehensive training, implementation of audit findings, and stronger leadership to develop a safety culture.

We are pleased to see that Peter Anderson’s Interim Report reflects many of ASMOF’s concerns. Mr Anderson’s interim report contains 48 recommendations in total, which cover a range of domains. This includes 6 recommendations focused on better patient care including:

  • the provision of a safe space in EDs and further analysis of BAU’s as an option.
  • Urgent action overcome delays in mental health assessments
  • Consideration of expanding existing mental health initiatives eg. Mental Health Acute Assessment Team in Western Sydney LHD.
  • Strategies to improve the experience of patients waiting at ED

Mr Anderson also made a range of recommendations around security staff roles and professionalisation of security staff. Mr Anderson falls short of recommending any specific security staff increase and instead states that security staffing levels be assessed on a local level.

The report also details recommended improvements to reporting systems and asks that ‘the current culture of under-reporting of security type incidents ends.’

The issue of criminal justice processes for offenders is also addressed, with Mr Anderson noting that there is an ‘understandable reluctance’ for staff to be involved in this process as a witness. However he suggests that this encourages repeat offending, and recommends that:

‘Staff who have been threatened or assaulted resulting from a deliberate act of violence are to be encouraged and supported to report the assault to police and to request action be taken by the police against the perpetrator.’

He notes that this ‘will be influenced by the clinical condition of the perpetrator’.

The full report can be read here:

ASMOF will continue to advocate for security improvements for our members and for the implementation of recommendations.

We are currently investigating security measures in HNELHD. If you work in HNELHD and have any thoughts on security measures in any service within the LHD please contact Carolina Simpson, Policy Officer by email at or phone on (02) 9212 6900.