Sydney, Jul 16: Over 22,000 hospital workers in Australia's New South Wales (NSW) state are planning to walk off the job next month, citing workplace safety as the reason for the strike action.
On Tuesday, 500 NSW Health Services Union delegates voted unanimously to stop work for four hours on Aug 1, describing the security situation at hospitals across the state as a "crisis." "We've seen too many people stabbed, too many people shot, too many people who are being spat upon or punched, too many people on workers comp, too many people getting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because they went to work," Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said.
"It's now time to take security within the health setting seriously and fundamentally changing what we're currently seeing." Calling on the state government to provide an extra 250 more security guards, last year there were 465 reported assaults in NSW hospitals.
In January this year, one particular incident horrified the Australian public when a mentally ill patient went on a stabbing spree at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, attacking two nurses and another patient.
While the strike action is likely to have a significant impact on the state's healthcare system, Hayes said paramedics will continue to respond to emergency call outs on Aug 1, adding that "patients won't be put at risk" due to the walk off. "It will slow the hospital system dramatically," Hayes said.
"We always make sure patients are our highest priority, but we want to make sure the government understands workers in the health setting are a priority as well."The NSW Health Department are yet to comment on the matter. UNI