The Yass Valley Times has been made aware that security staff deployed at Yass Hospital during the initial COVID response will be removed at the end of this month.

The measure has sparked concern with The Yass Valley Times receiving communication from a stakeholder who wants to see the security staff placement continue for the safety and peace of mind of staff and patients.

A spokesperson for Southern New South Wales Local Health District responded to our enquiries with the following statement.

‘Yass Hospital has security measures in place to ensure the safety of patients and staff, including appropriate security staffing.

Two Health and Security Assistants are employed at the hospital to provide security support to staff who are trained in the management of aggression and de-escalation. An external security company monitors and responds to duress alarms.

As part of the NSW Government’s $800 million investment to support the health system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, $10 million was provided in 2020-21 for an additional 316 security staff to be available at hospitals where there are COVID clinics.

Additional security staff were contracted at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020 to assist with COVID-19 screening processes at the Yass Hospital entrance. As COVID-19 cases have significantly decreased across NSW, the contract with the external security company providing these additional security staff for COVID screening will end on 30 May 2021. All other security staff will remain in place.

Since 2012, NSW Health has increased security staffing by 225 full time equivalent (FTE) or 23 per cent to 1187 FTE at June 2020. This includes both Security Officers and Health and Security Assistants employed by NSW Health.

Across NSW since 2016, $19 million has been invested to improve security in emergency departments at public hospitals, upgrading CCTV systems, improving access controls between public and staff and installing remote locking to public access doors.

In addition, more than $5 million has been invested to upgrade duress alarms for staff in emergency departments, which they are mandated to wear while on duty.’